Help / FAQ

This site contains documents related to Oregon Public Employee Retirement System.  Most documents are in PDF format that can be searched manually or using the Document Index page.  Some documents are quite large and may take a long time to download depending on the speed of your connection.  The biggest limitation of the Document Index process is you need to know how the document was classified.  In some cases, documents may originate from PERS in the form of a letter and be about legislation or some other topic.  Using the Database, a document can be classified according to multiple search criteria.  The web Document Index only classifies records based on one primary source.  Note that the database search results includes the document size so you can consider that factor before electing to open or download the item.

The Document Index:
Document Index involves a manual process using standard web pages organized according to the type (source) of document and sorted by date.  If you know the type of document you want (litigation, legislation, audit report, study, etc.) you can use the index at the top of the page to jump to the appropriate category.  Within each category documents are ordered by date with the oldest dates at the top.  At the end of most sections there is a link back to the index to facilitate navigation.  Links are shown in a light blue and underlined.  Once you visit a link, the color changes to a gold or amber color.  The limitations of this search method is you need to know how the document was classified and as the number of documents grows, finding a single record becomes a search for a needle in a haystack.

Document Database Search:
The document search uses a database with a full-text query capability.  The search box on the home page will be one of two access points for database queries.  The home page search allows you to use any combination of words to query for a match.  The more words you include in your search, the fewer hits you will have.  After examining your search results, you can elect a modified search which retains all your original search criteria or a new search which wipes the original criteria clean to start fresh.  You can also use the Advanced Search option for more complex searches employing multiple search criteria.

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Advanced Search:

The Advanced Search allows you to fine tune your searches.  If the initial search results in too many responses, use the date or some of the other options to limit the search range.  For example, if you know that a document was related to the legislative discussion in 2003, you might enter a date range starting in Jan. and ending in Dec. of 2003 as shown in the image above.  Use the Modify Search option to preserve your initial search criteria while adding additional filters.

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Database Search Results:

The current default for search results displays the first 20 records sorted by Title.  The total number of records located is displayed on the upper right side of the search results.  It is possible to change the search results by clicking on the heading name in the dark blue bar at the top of the search results.  If the default search is by Title and you want to sort by size, click on the word Size at the top of the column.  This should sort documents in ascending order.  Clicking size again will reverse the order.  Experiment with this until you are comfortable with the search results for each search option.

Clicking on the document title opens the record in a new window.  Clicking on the down arrow on the right side of the screen, save a copy of the record on your computer.  Clicking on the magnifying glass on the right displays additional data about the record.  The number of Downloads records the number of times the document has been opened or saved.

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Most Popular and Most Recent Documents

The most popular and recent document results displayed at the bottom of the Advanced Search page are default references provided so visitors have a sense of what other people are reading and which documents have been added most recently.  Each time the Advanced Search page is referenced, this information is updated.

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Q: What is the single most helpful thing I should know before using the database?
A: Mastering the options on the Advanced Search page will greatly improve the speed and effectiveness of your queries.  Increasing the number of filters in your query will narrow the number of hits.

Q: Is there anything I should know about the files before beginning?
A: One of the best sources of information about PERS comes from the packets that are produced for PERB board meetings.  All PERS board packets are provided as a single PDF document.  Packets can run 200 pages or more so locating a particular document can require a good deal of effort.  Before adding packet material to the Document Library, it is broken apart into individual documents so they can be classified and indexed for easier and faster access via the Database Search.  It is common for multiple copies of a document to exist in the database because an issue may appear on several board agendas over a period of time and the document titles can vary from one month to the next.

Q: How does the search on the home page work?
A: A copy of the text from each document is stored in the database.  The home page search is a "full-text" search function.  It looks for your key words and provides a list of all the responses that contain the word or words.  Many documents are images (pictures of the original).  Where possible, these have been converted to text using an optical character scanning process.  This is not always 100% successful.  Therefore, the text in the database may be incomplete.  It does reflects the best that was possible with the document files available.  Note that the default behavior of the search engine is to use all of the words you use.  As you add more word to a search, it will narrow the number of hits.

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Q: How does the advanced search work?
A: You are presented with multiple search filters and you may use one or a combination of search criteria.  For example, if you are looking for an item related to HB2003 that was discussed in a letter by Greg Hartman, you could click on the Legislation and Letter boxes and type "Greg Hartman" in the Keywords area.  If the search results produces too many responses, consider adding a date filter for the year or unique terms for the subject or title.

Q: What is keywords on the Advanced Search page?
A: Keywords yields the same results as the home page search.  It looks for a match on all words in the box against the text in the database.  You may include as many words as you wish and the search process ignores punctuation and special characters (-,.~$#@&* etc.).

General Questions:
Q: How do I print documents?
A: Once you open a document, you should be able to print using the File / Print option as you would any document.

Q: How do I send a document copy to someone?
A: When you open a document using the web search option, there should be a copy of the web URL at the top of your browser. Copy this link and you should be able to paste it in an e-mail message.  If you use the Database Search, right click on the title and select the Send Link option.  This should open an e-mail new message window with the document link in the message area.

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Q: I have a problem, question, or a comment.  How do I contact someone with my issue?
A: You can use the "Comments" button on the menu or any of the links that say "site administrator".  All contacts will receive a response.  There is a "site administrator" link at the bottom of most pages.

Q: What is OPDG - Yahoo?
A: OPDG stands for "Oregon PERS Discussion Group".  This group is hosted on Yahoo and has over 1,000 members.  Many consider it the single best source of information about current PERS issues.  Discussions include a wide range of retirement issues and questions.  All of the volunteers that have worked on this web are members of OPDG.

Q: Is there anything unusual about the documents listed?
A: The PERS agenda and attachments include multiple documents.  Some of these items run 200 pages and are an excellent source of information about PERS decisions.  The full text of these attachments are available from the Database Search option.

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