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Sole Source Procurement Under the Uniform Guidance


Generally, sole source procurement (i.e. use of noncompetitive proposals) is the solicitation of a proposal from only one source. The use of this procurement method is permitted under very limited circumstances. 


Here's an overview of this method, along with a breakdown of the four circumstances in which noncompetitive proposals are allowed under the Uniform Guidance.



Definition of Sole Source Procurement


A sole source procurement can be defined as any contract entered into without a competitive process, based on a justification that only one known source exists or that only one single supplier can fulfill the requirements.  While the Uniform Guidance focuses heavily on the promotion of competition in the solicitation process, exceptions for noncompetitive proposals are allowed when competition is not feasible.


Specific Requirements for Sole Source Procurement


Section 200.320 of the Uniform Guidance defines the circumstances in which sole source procurements are permitted.


  • The item is only available from a single source

  • The public exigency or emergency for the requirement will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation

  • The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity expressly authorizes noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the non-Federal entity

  • After solicitation of a number of sources, competition is deemed inadequate


Only one of these circumstances needs to be met for a procurement to qualify.


Other Procurement-Related Considerations


Some other key considerations include the following:


  • A contract can only be awarded to a responsible contractors possessing the ability to perform successfully under the terms and conditions of a proposed procurement. It's important that you perform the appropriate level of due diligence to consider such matters as contractor integrity, compliance with public policy, record of past performance, and financial and technical resources.

  • The contractor cannot be on the System for Award Management (SAM) exclusion list.

  • You still need to perform a cost or price analysis to ensure reasonableness.

  • The contract must contain the applicable provisions described in Appendix II to Part 200—Contract Provisions.


Remember that even though the procurement isn't competed, you still need to maintain a history of the process.  It will be especially important for you to document the circumstances and rationale for not competing the solicitation.



Tom is Founder & CEO of Vendor Centric. He writes and speaks frequently on the topics of procurement and vendor management. Connect with Tom on LinkedIn or drop him a note at





Vendor Centric is a leading consulting firm specializing in procurement and vendor management software and services. Learn more about our 4-Step Process for Complying with the Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards, and how we can help your organization get, and stay, compliant.


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