What is a Sole Source Procurement?
A Sole Source Procurement is 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.
Sole Source Procurement examples include:
- Proprietary items, such as copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.
- Products or services that support existing software or data exchange between public or private agencies or are required for compatibility to existing equipment.
- Products and services for pilots or experimental projects.
- Considerations for unique design, availability, geographic location, exclusive authorized representative, cost of conversion, warranty services.
Procurements that generally DO NOT meet the justification for a Sole Source include:
- Proprietary products or services that are provided by more than one potential supplier.
- Preference for a brand name product where other brands qualify as equals.
- Highly restrictive specifications written to exclude competition.
- Incumbent supplier that has been furnishing services to an agency.
- Loss of funding at the end of a fiscal year.
When to Use Sole Source Procurements
Sole Source Procurements are allowable by statute in circumstance where a determination has been made by an agency, based on written findings of fact, that the products and services are available from only one provider.
Procurement teams should perform extensive market research prior to determining to use a Sole Source Procurement method. Sole Source Procurements are extremely unusual and should be considered an exception, as they are the most likely procurement method to receive – and defend against – a protest.
A Sole Source Procurement may be awarded without competition if, after completion of market research, it is determined there is only one known capable source of the needed product or service, brought about by the unique nature of the requirement, supplier, or market conditions.
How to Process Sole Source Procurements
According to ORS 279B.075, any agency must conduct market research and formally document its findings, including justification for the Sole Source, in a written determination. The following information must be included in the Sole Source determination for products and services:
- Project name and subject of the contract.
- DAS delegation number, if applicable.
- Estimated total value of contract.
- Background, including identification of prospective supplier.
- Brief description of the contract or contracts, including current and contemplated future purchases of product or service.
- Reasons the agency is seeking a Sole Source Procurement method.
- Findings that include factual information supporting the determination, including:
- Efficient utilization of existing products requires the acquisition of compatible products or services from only one source.
- Exchange of software or data with other public or private agencies are available from only one source.
- Products or services are for use in a pilot or an experimental project.
- Any other findings that support the conclusion that the products or services are available from only one source.
- Results of market research (internet, trade journals, agency supplier lists, professional organizations, studies, catalogs/industrial periodicals, supplier sources, yellow pages) that demonstrates there is only one source that can provide the products or services.
- Information technology contracts must address and document any ownership or proprietary issues.
Note: If a brand name is involved, the agency must also satisfy the requirements of the Brand Name Rule (OAR 125-247-0691) and the brand name determination should be included within the Sole Source determination.
Contract Value Thresholds
Review, Approval and Posting
A Sole Source Procurement requires the following considerations for review, approval and posting of the public notice of approval.
- The agency must complete and submit documentation for Sole Source determination for products and services to the appropriate individual for review (DPO or State CPO) based on the value of the contract.
- If the request is not approved, the agency must identify an appropriate alternative procurement method.
- If the request is approved, the agency must post a public notice on the OregonBuys system (Request for Sole Source) and include the form as support for the request.
- The public posting must remain on the OregonBuys website for a minimum of seven days from the date of posting to allow suppliers the opportunity to review and submit protest to the Request for Sole Source.
- Protests must be submitted within the seven day posting period, or the time period detailed in the public notice of the Request for Sole Source, to the appropriate place detailed in the public posting.
- If in that time no protest is received, the agency may execute the contract.
- Where it is reasonable to do so, the agency should make all efforts to validate pricing received from the supplier and must negotiate with the supplier to obtain contract pricing and terms and conditions that meet market expectations and are advantageous to the state.
- If in that time a protest is received, the DPO or State CPO will place the request on hold, review the protest, and provide a written determination of the protest.
- If the protest is upheld, the agency will be required to identify an appropriate alternative procurement method.
- If the protest is denied, the agency can execute the contract.
- If the value of the contract exceeds $150,000, the agency must submit the final negotiated contract to the Attorney General for the required legal sufficiency review.