Sole Source Procurement

The Board of Regents has acknowledged that there are occasions when products or services must be purchased from one specific source or manufacturer. If a request is made to purchase a product or service from only one supplier, yet several sources can provide a similar product, the request will be subject to the normal bid process. Should you request that products or services be purchased on a sole source basis, it must meet one of the criteria shown below. You must provide a written explanation, commonly referred to as a "sole source justification", to support your request. Use the Sole Source Request Form to submit your request.  The four most commonly accepted sole source justifications are outlined below.

  1. Compatibility with existing equipment
    This justification may be used if your products or services are being purchased to directly interface with or attach to equipment of the same manufacturer, and no other manufacturer's products will correctly interface with existing equipment.

  2. Compatibility for instructional purposes
    This justification may be used if the products are being purchased to supplement existing equipment in a classroom. The product must exactly match the existing equipment and is being purchased to provide uniformity for instructional purposes.

  3. Compatibility for research
    This justification may be used if the main purpose for acquiring equipment or supplies is to replicate specific experiments, using the exact products that produced the original results. You may also use this justification if you are collaborating with another researcher and can show that identical products are required to fulfill your part of the agreement.

  4. Only one supplier can be identified to supply a compliant product or service or only one supplier is uniquely qualified to provide the product or service
    In rare cases, only one supplier may exist to provide a particular product or service. When providing a justification based on the availability of one supplier, the product or service must be defined in generic terms. Specifying patented products or processes, when not necessary to meet functional requirements, is not acceptable as a sole source justification. Alternatively, only one supplier may be identified as being uniquely qualified or having specific experience and expertise to provide the product or services.  The justification must describe why the supplier is uniquely qualified.

To request a sole source use the Sole Source Request Form and email to Procurement Services at procurement@iastate.edu or include as an attachment on a non-catalog requisition in Workday.  Final determination as to whether products/services will be purchased on a sole source basis will be made by the Procurement Services Department, in consultation with the requester. Your sole source documentation will remain on file as part of the official procurement documents and may be subject to audit or review by interested parties.

For requests that are using federal funds and exceed $50,000, only the following sole source reasons may be used as justification:

  1. The item is only available from a single source (and can be documented as such. This does not mean only one source can sell a particular brand or style but that no other source for the item required can be identified even through a bid process.)
  2. The public exigency or emergency for the requirement will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation;
  3. The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity expressly authorizes noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the non-Federal entity; or
  4. After solicitation of a number of sources, competition is determined inadequate.

The requester must write the justification in their own words.  Sole source justifications that are written by a supplier may be provided as additional documentation only.      

See also: Competitive Procurement