Single or Sole Source Justification


To define the procedures for the proper processing of a single or sole source justified purchase.


These procedures apply to all purchases from State accounts where competition may be restricted due to a variety of causes, e.g., technical specifications, proprietary information, method of distribution, etc.


In many cases, departments have exacting requirements relating to their specific fields.  Occasionally, when making purchases of a technical nature, competition may not be feasible.

Department's Responsibilities

  1. Justify and document in writing the feature(s) and/or functionality that makes the item unique.
  2. See the requirements below for inclusion in sole source justifications.
  3. Have the appropriate department head and vice president sign the justification to indicate their approval.

Buyer's Responsibilities

On occasion, Procurement Services receives purchase requisitions for single and sole source purchases without a justification from the department.  If the purchase seems to be of an obvious sole source nature (i.e., subscription, dealer maintenance), a purchasing "sole source" may be noted by the buyer.

The buyer is responsible for demonstrating the reasonableness of the price being paid.  This may be accomplished in several ways:

  1. Obtain a written quote using the RFQ form that has the appropriate statement;
  2. Obtain a written statement from the supplier;
  3. Reference to published price lists or historical files; or
  4. Note past experience.

Sole Source Justification

There are several methods by which the need for single or sole source or "proprietary" purchasing may be substantiated:

1.  A description of the need for compatibility with an existing item in enough detail to demonstrate that compatibility is, indeed, necessary;

2.  An explanation that a supplier holds a service contract and, therefore, must supply the parts to accomplish such a contract; and

3.  A description of the feature(s) and functionality that make the item unique. 

In addition, the following information should incorporated into the sole source justification:

  • A detailed explanation of how and why these "unique features" affect the function of the new item;
  • Why an item without these functions and/or features are necessary for the use intended by the College;
  • Why an item without these functions and/or features could not be used;
  • Use of statistics or dollar amounts, if applicable;
  • A definitive statement that no competition by manufacturer or dealers exists, with an explanation of how this information was arrived at;
  • Any other data that the end user feels would support "sole source"; and
  • Price justification -- a statement that would indicate why you consider the price to be reasonable.  Reasonableness of price could be established by a price list, comparison of similar items, etc.

The justification should be prepared by someone familiar enough with the requirements to provide the necessary information, and should be presented in written form with the signature and title of the person who prepared it. This should be countersigned by the appropriate department head and vice president.

Additional Examples of Sole Source Justifications

  • Manufacturer markets on a direct basis only.
  • Used or demonstration equipment available at a lower than new cost.
  • Item sold through manufacturer or importer only, and there is no comparable unit made that end user is aware of.
  • Component for existing piece of equipment.  Available only from the producer of this OEM equipment who sells on a direct basis only or through importer.
  • Must match or fit existing units on hand; available only from same source as original equipment.
  • Service(s) being provided by the vendor are unique and, therefore, competitive bids are unavailable.
  • Repairs/maintenance service requiring expertise in operations of unit and necessary parts unavailable from any source except original equipment manufacturer or their designated serving dealers.
  • Other.

Last updated 11/20/2023.