Sole or Single Source Justification

UB requires open and free competition for all procurement transactions. In cases where the purchase is limited to a single or sole manufacturer or supplier, UB’s Purchasing Department must have an appropriate justification on file.

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Sole or Single Source Documentation Requirements

Staff are responsible for providing and certifying as accurate and complete necessary data to support their recommendation for other than full and open competition.  The justification must demonstrate that only one company can provide goods or perform services.  These requirements apply to all funding sources: state, Research Foundation or UB Foundation.

State Orders $50,000 and Over

State-funded purchases of $50,000 and over require additional information. Contact the buyer who handles the commodity or service for more information.

Examples of Sole or Single Source Justifications
Characteristic Explanation
Compatibility Need for compatibility with an existing item with enough detail to demonstrate that compatibility is indeed necessary
Existing Contract
Vendor holds a service contract and therefore must supply the parts as a part of this contract. Mention warranty invalidation, if appropriate

The feature or features which would make an item unique:


-   A detailed explanation of how and why these unique features affect the function of the item

-   An explanation of why these unique functions and/or features are necessary to the use intended by the unit

-   Why an item could not be used without these functions and/or features

Timeframe Time is of the essence and only one known source can meet UB’s needs within the required timeframe; administrative delays do not justify urgency for a sole or single source justification

Preparing the Sole or Single Source Justification

Be Thorough With Your Justification

An incomplete or missing justification will delay your purchase request.

The justification should:

  • Be prepared by someone familiar enough with the requirements to provide the necessary information.
  • Include the signature and title of the preparer. The author should be prepared to substantiate any facts if an audit occurs.
  • Be submitted as a signed document attached to the purchasing requisition.

Reasonableness of Price

Reasonableness of price must be documented. A few ways that this can be documented are listed below:

  • The vendor’s published price list and documented discount
  • Invoices or cost sheets from prior state contracts
  • Comparisons to other vendors' prices for similar products/services
  • Comparison to similar purchases by other campuses
  • Price or cost analysis
  • Historical cost or price comparison

Tips for a Successful Justification

  • The two most often cited reasons for a sole or single source justification are uniqueness and timeframe.  These are often confused and inappropriately interchanged.  If a supplier is unique and if their uniqueness is adequately substantiated, a discussion of timeframe is inappropriate.  If the basis for the justification is timeframe, a discussion of uniqueness should not be made or alluded to.
  • Statements that a supplier has the best capability or offers the lowest price are not bases for a sole or single source justification.  Such determinations can only be made through full and open competitive processes.
  • Rationale that the recommended source is the most highly qualified to perform but does not establish why other sources cannot perform is not acceptable.
  • Incumbency does not justify a sole or single source purchase.
  • Administrative delay or lack of adequate advanced planning resulting in urgency does not justify a sole or single source purchase.

Related Forms and Guidelines