Our clients need precision. They only want to receive open bids and RFPs that are relevant to their business. However, precision and relevance is a challenge when you are dealing with very inconsistent information, like government contracts.

This is where my team and I come in – 30 researchers at Onvia who carefully review and categorize each government project. We field, normalize, and clean inconsistent data so our clients can easily find the opportunities that matter to them.

In the course of a year, Onvia’s categorization team categorized 737,059 projects! Most of them fall in the construction categories ranging from roadway, equipment supplies, and water-related projects. Construction purchases tend to be larger and over the agency spending threshold, therefore we see a lot of them published.

Top 3 Viewed CategoriesBut our 3 most viewed categories by clients are construction services and building, architectural and engineering services, and IT/telecommunications. Each category can be expanded into many levels of sub-categories so we can support the range of our clients’ market place. In fact, we publish 458 categories to capture all types of products and services that government at all levels purchases. The category can cover something broad like construction management to something super niche like snowplowing and street cleaning services.

In my job, I quickly learn to recognize patterns among proposals, agencies, and project types. While most agencies do proposals differently, there are patterns, and most organizations are consistent individually. By learning these patterns, I’m able to increase accuracy and efficiency. For example, I often look for the scope in a document to determine a project’s purpose. As a client, it is important to know this because your product may be a small part of a larger unrelated industry’s project.

Categorization at Onvia is an on-going and important process. We continue to refine and add new categories to help our clients gain efficiency. Our latest categorization addition from last fall was in the area of transportation, which introduced more specific categories like agricultural vehicles and prison transportation services. Interfacing the procurement data everyday helps me understand our clients’ business better and how big and fragmented government purchases can be. Gathering and analyzing big data takes a team and I’m happy to be on this team.