Power Searching FBO.gov #LIKEaBoss

For those that like to peruse government contracts on FBO.gov the old fashioned way (you aren’t using Govini, Onvia, BGOV, GOVWIN,BlackDragon, Octant, Privia, etc.), here are some tips on interesting search terms and phrases, Boolean operators, grouping, wildcards, and proximity searches. You might already know, but FBO uses theLucene search engine.


Search Terms and Phrases

When you are entering a search item, you should think of your search as being comprised of two components: terms and operators.

There are two types of terms: Single Terms and Phrases:

  • A Single Term is a single word such as intelligence or analysis.
  • A Phrase is a group of words surrounded by double quotes such as “intelligence analysis”. Multiple terms can be combined together with Boolean operators to form a more complex query.

Boolean Operators and Grouping

  • Boolean operators allow terms to be combined through logic operators.
  • FBO supports AND, OR, NOT, “+”, and “-” as Boolean operators.

Note:  Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT must be in ALL CAPS otherwise they are interpreted as search terms.

  • If there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the OR operator is used by default.
  • The NOT operator excludes items that contain the term after NOT.  The symbol ‘!’ can be used in place of the word NOT. The “-” or prohibit operator excludes items that contain the term after the “-” symbol.

Note:  The NOT or “-” operator cannot be used with just one term.

  • Grouping – The system supports using parentheses to group clauses to form sub queries. This can be very useful if you want to control the boolean logic for a query.


 Term Modifier Operators (Wildcard, Fuzzy, Proximity)

  • Wildcard Searches – To perform a single character wildcard search use the ?symbol. To perform a multiple character wildcard search use the * symbol. The single character wildcard search looks for terms that match that with the single character replaced. For example, to search for analysis or analyses, you can use the search: analys?s.  Multiple character wildcard searches look for zero or more characters. For example, to search for analysis, analyses or analyst, you can use the search: analys*.

Note:  You cannot use a * or ? symbol as the first character of a search.

  • Proximity Searches – To do a proximity search use the tilde, “~”, symbol at the end of a Phrase. For example to search for a analysis and intelligence within 8 words of each other in a document use the search:“intelligence analysis”~8
  • Fuzzy Searches – To do a fuzzy search use the tilde, ~, symbol at the end of a single word term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to analysis use the fuzzy search: analysis~. This search will find terms like analyses and analysts. An additional parameter can specify the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 1 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. Similarity is defined as the minimum number of operations needed to transform one string into the other, where an operation is an insertion, deletion, or substitution of a single character.



intelligence AND analysis

Finds notices containing both words “intelligence” and “analysis”.  The AND operator finds results where both terms exist anywhere in the text of an item.  This is equivalent to an intersection using sets.


“intelligence analysis”~8

Finds notices containing the words “intelligence” and “analysis” within 8 words of each other (proximity search).


intelligence AND analysis NOT army

Finds notices containing the words “intelligence” and “analysis”, but not “army”.


intelligence* AND GEOINT

Finds notices containing both words that begin with “intelligence” and the word “GEOINT”.


“intelligence analysis” AND (GEOINT OR SIGINT)

Finds notices containing the phrase “intelligence analysis” in addition to either of “GEOINT” or “SIGINT”



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