Sole Source Justification

  • District policy requires formal competition for any transaction expected to involve an expenditure of $3,500 or more. Competition is not required for:

    • Professional services as defined in Board of Education Policy FEB (architectural, engineering or land surveying firms)
    • Sole source purchases

     It is imperative that the purchasing function in a public institution be open to all qualified suppliers and that the process not impair or discourage competition. Thus, competitive bidding is always the preferred method of making an award.

    The Purchasing Department Buyers are authorized to determine the most cost-effective method of source selection for purchases $3,500 or more and may decide that a purchase in this range should be competitively bid. The unnecessary use of sole source procurement is one of several anticompetitive practices that must be avoided. Before making a determination that there is only a single appropriate source from which to purchase, requisitioners should undertake reasonable research to determine if other suppliers exist.

    The burden of proof is on the requester to justify sole source purchases. Those requests must be accompanied by a completed sole source justification form that asks the requestor to:

    • Describe the salient features of a brand or trade name 
    • Document that only that product or service will fulfill the District's needs to the exclusion of all others

    Reminder: Sole sourcing is not a method of selecting a preferred vendor. It is a statement that no other vendors exist who are capable of providing the needed commodity.  All such statements become a part of the purchase contract file and must be defensible at times of audit.

Criteria for Sole Source

  • Licensed or Patented

    The supplier has a license or patent that makes them the sole provider.

    One-of-a kind

    The commodity or service has no competitive alternatives available on the market and is available from only one supplier.
    Sole Distributor

    The supplier is the sole distributor for the region or municipality.


    The commodity or service must match existing brand of equipment for compatibility and is available from only one supplier.

    Replacement Part

    For a specific brand or existing equipment.


    Sole provider of a factory authorized warranty service.

    Unique Design

    The commodity or service must meet physical design or quality standards and is available from only one supplier.

    Emergency URGENT NEED for the item or service does not permit soliciting competitive bids, as outlined in BOE Policy DJF-2.
    District Standards

    The commodity or service must comply with established district standards and is available from only one supplier.

    • Procurements of items which the District has established a standard of designating a brand name or manufacturer or by pre-approving via a testing shall be competitively bid if there is more than one supplier for the item. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a sole source purchase?

    • A sole source is defined as "A procurement method where only one supplier possesses the unique ability or capability to meet the particular requirements of the solicitation."
      • If there is a way to draft the specifications so that more than one respondent will reply, it is not a sole source.
      • The use of sole source purchases shall be limited only to specific instances which are totally justified to satisfy compatibility or technical performance needs.

    When must a sole source justification be completed?

    • A sole source justification must be completed whenever competition is not sought for a purchase $3,500 or more. A sole source justification is not required for purchases of personal and professional services under $3,500.


    What forms should I use to develop a sole source justification?


    How often must a sole source purchase be justified?

    • A sole source justification is valid for one specific purchase only.