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Helpful Hints: New Help and Coming Improvements to Contract Opportunities

As you probably already know, FBO retired and was transitioned to beta.SAM.gov. Currently, all the things you used to do in FBO, you now do under what we call Contract Opportunities in beta.SAM.gov.

Since the launch, we’ve been constantly working to improve the contract opportunities functions. 

New help for contract opportunities posted in the Learning Center

Since January 2020, users have had the option of saving contract opportunity searches and receiving an email notification when results change. For more instruction on how to set this up, please see this frequently asked question (FAQ)

Need more information about searching by NAICS code or PSC? Please see this new FAQ, which links to a video and a step-by-step instruction with screenshots. 

There’s also new step-by-step instructions with screenshots on searching by place of performance, including how to search by state, as well as a new video on filtering searches by federal organization.

Updates to the Federal Hierarchy Search (for Federal Employees Only)

Regarding the federal hierarchy search, users are now able to search for offices that have non-U.S. addresses. 

The start and end dates of offices now align with start and end dates of sub-tiers and departments/independent agencies.

Here are some exciting improvements planned for development:  

Updated keyword search to allow phrase searches

In the future, you will be able to enter phrases into the search bar and get more focused results. This will help you to save time when looking for contract opportunities and make the overall process more efficient. This upcoming change offers a huge benefit over the current search function, which only allows searching for phrases when you enter multiple terms in quotation marks, leading to the possibility of numerous irrelevant results.

Behind the scenes improvements

Changes are being made on the development side of the house so that when something needs to be fixed or adjusted, it can be done more quickly. This new development method using micro frontends translates to a better user experience with minimized system interruptions. It increases the ability to update individual parts of the system, rather than upgrading everything at once. 

Additional Planned Improvements

There will be several enhancements coming to Contract Opportunities in beta.SAM.gov in the future. Some of these include:

Users can schedule future searches

Option for filtering federal organization below sub-tier 

Improved geographic search capabilities (e.g., being able to search multiple states in a single search)

 

Access the beta.SAM.gov Learning Center any time for step-by-step videos and instructions. Remember, if you need further assistance using beta.SAM.gov, the Federal Service Desk is here to help Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, at FSD.gov

 
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kengoldman
Thank you for the feedback and detailed understanding of the concern. The initial launch of beta.SAM.gov in 2017 allowed a user entering words into the keyword search without adding quotes. This would return results for each word individually. Each word was also sorted by relevance individually. We received many FSD tickets and feedback comments from users who requested a change to eliminate the need for manually adding quotes. Now, our search works like major search engines in that if a user enters “Mission Control Station" with or without the quotes, the search treats this as a phrase. During user testing, we heard users state they often got useful additional results which were not an exact match but close to the phrase, if part of the phrase was misspelled, or if part of the phrase was missing. This is why we continued to return the results for partial matches of the phrase. If the user inputs a second series of words into the keyword filter, it will look for that second series of words as a phrase as well. When using keywords, the default sort is by relevance. This means the results will place a higher relevance for items containing the full phrase and they will be returned first in the results. If additional filtering is needed, users can select from a wide range of specific filters for items like last day or even date ranges. In this way, users can search by relevance and date at the same time. The results with the exact phrase are scored as the most relevant; those that match part of the phrase are scored less relevant. Thus, if a user’s first search result for “mission control station” features the keywords, but not in a phrase, it is likely that there are not any relevant results for “mission control station” in the date range the user specified. If users change the sorting to other than relevance, then those items which are less relevant (contain only one word, etc) could rise to the top. Users can also select the 'change filters' to find additional filters to the ones present by default on the results screen. Users may also input each word separately into the left hand keyword filter. We actively seek user input through this site, focus groups, and other outreach sources. With each input, we evaluate, find other users for input on the concern, test the changes, and, when ready, update the functionality on the site for our users. Thanks again for the feedback.
Lori O'Connor
Over the weekend of June 19th a change was made to the keyword search criteria, specifically when using search words contained by quotes. According to the federal service desk, search phrases now return the phrase results first then individual words in addition to the phrase. Understand the idea, however think many users will be very disappointed with the new scheme. In reality using the “xxx xxx” format should eliminate all the items without all the words isn’t that the point? Targeting searches to drill down to program opportunities we know are coming. Above it states "This upcoming change offers a huge benefit over the current search function, which only allows searching for phrases when you enter multiple terms in quotation marks, leading to the possibility of numerous irrelevant results.". I would strongly disagree using this new scheme for phrase searching has dramatically increased the irrelevant results. If the entire phrase is not there users now get a ton of data, none of this data is relevant to the search phrase. It often does not contain one word in the keyword search string, kind of makes us heavy users doubt the integrity of the search data, certainly the efficacy. Most definitely impacts the daily emails as most don’t match the keyword search string at all after this change. So much better when nothing was returned, we were able to trust that that combination of search words enclosed in quotes had not been updated during the previous day. Betting the number of emails for saved searches sent out have increased substantially over the last few weeks Try searching for “Mission Control Station” those words individually return a good portion of the entire database, in the last day over 19,000. 36 pages of data this morning updated from yesterday alone but not one "mission control station". 23 emails with all different search phases return basically the same non-relevant items, how is that helpful for contractors? Understand can sort the same search by relevance and it returns a good match but is from 2016 useless if looking for new opportunities. The only way to make this change work is to be able to sort the data by relevance and by date at the same time. Please rethink this changes and anyone out there who is as frustrated as I am please chime in. Thanks for your consideration Lori
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