Sole Source – as defined by South Carolina law, a Sole Source purchase is one where there is only one source (one supplier) that could possibly supply the required product or service. Examples of Sole Source transactions are:
- There is only one supplier that can meet required specifications.
- The product that is required is under patent, copyright, or of proprietary design.
- The product is available only direct from the manufacturer.
- The product is a replacement part or component for existing equipment and only available from one source.
What is NOT a sole source:
- Something deemed to be the “best” fit for a specific purpose (by going through a process to determine what is “best” you are actually conducting a procurement process).
- Something that is a “really good deal” – a vendor giving a great price for a short time, or only has one item available that we won’t get if we don’t place a PO now.
- A good price, no time to do a bid, or stating it is the “best” anything are not reasons for sole source.
- Something where there are multiple sources of supply but one supplier may be unique in how they do something, or we’ve used one in the past, or other institutions have used a supplier – these are examples of “single source” but not sole source. With Single Source suppliers, we have a preferred but under SC law, those are not “sole” or only possible supplier so we would still need to compete, most likely via a Request for Proposal.
Sole Source Justification <=$10K
If you are making a purchase that is <$10K, you must use the Sole Source form in buyWays, but your justification simply needs to state why it is sole source. Since this is below our State limit for bidding, we are able to be a little more lax in the justification. As long as your justification makes sense, it will be acceptable.
Sole Source Justification >$10K
If you are making a purchase that is >$10K, you must use the Sole Source form in buyWays and must provide very detailed and specific justification. The rest of this information on this page should be used as guidance for providing this justification.
What makes a good sole source justification:
A simple statement explaining 1) what requirement you have, 2) why the equipment or service must meet that requirement, 3) why a particular piece of equipment or service is the ONLY one that can meet that requirement, and 4) how you know it is only available from the one specific vendor.
General Tips for a good sole source justification:
- Do NOT say “see attached”; you must write the justification in the space provided in the form in buyWays. It is much preferred to simply write a short paragraph than to write a long, formal memo that needs to be deciphered. When it comes to sole source, quality is WAY more important than quantity. If multiple items are truly unique in your justification, pick just one to explain in detail and use as your justification.
- Do NOT provide more details than required above; why it is a rush, why it is a good deal, or outlining specifications that are not unique to this purchase are irrelevant and should not be included. A good justification based on a single, well justified requirement is much better than a long, drawn out, confusing justification.
- Do NOT use word such as “we selected,” “a committee chose,” or “better than …;” these all suggest that an informal procurement process was used to select the product or service over another.
- DO highlight any requirements for compatibility with existing equipment (explain what we have and why our need must be compatible with it – then explain why it is the only compatible item); mention any ongoing research requirements.
- Note that under SC law and University policy, sole sources require a written determination and approval by the Procurement Director and Comptroller, plus any departmental or VP approvals as necessary, so allow time for processing.