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Policies and Procedures

Policy 1232 – Sole Source or Brand-Specific Purchases

March 3, 1998
Last Updated
October 1, 2014
Last Reviewed
October 1, 2014
Responsible University Officer
Director of Purchasing Services
Responsible Unit
Procurement Services

Policy Statement

Requisitions in excess of $5,000 that designate only one vendor, brand, or model as being capable of fulfilling the requestor's needs must be accompanied by a justification memorandum, which can be attached in ConnectCarolina. The justification memorandum must explain in detail the reasons why the designated source or product is solely able to meet the current need, and why no other source or product can do so.

Reason for Policy

The University recognizes there are instances when it is necessary to procure a single-source purchase to meet current needs. This policy ensures the substantiation of such needs while adhering to state laws regulating fair bidding competition.


The normal competitive bidding procedure may be waived in the following circumstances:

1. For small order (under $5,000) purchases. Individuals authorized to use the small order procedure must still search for best-value products before expending University funds.

2. Where the needed product or service is available only from one source.

3. Where standardization or compatibility is the overriding consideration and it can only be achieved through the purchase of a unique product.

4. Where products are bought for “over the counter” resale.

5. Where a particular product or service is desired for educational, training, experimental, developmental or research work (must explain why other products/services do not meet user’s needs).

6. Where the requirement is for an authorized cooperative project with another governmental unit(s) or a charitable non-profit organizations(s).

7. Where performance or price competition is not available.

8. Where a particular medical product, service or prosthetic appliance is needed.

9. Where additional products or services are needed to complete an ongoing job or task.

Special Situations



  • 1232.1 – Justifying Sole Source or Brand-Specific Purchases
  • 1226.1 - Creating a Requisition

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between a brand specific and a sole source purchase?
A: Brand-specific sources are those that require the use of the manufacturer's name and product description in the bid solicitation. Items offered in response to the solicitation must be the exact manufacturer, model and type specified. A brand-specific item or service may be necessary to compatibility and/or continuity of support. In this instance, competition must be sought whenever possible, since brand-specific products may be available from multiple sources of supply.

Sole source is the term used when a needed product or service is available from only one source of supply. Competition may be waived if justified according to North Carolina statute. Regardless of whether the purchase comes from a sole source or is brand-specific, proper written justification is required.

Q: Can the description or specification of an item include a brand name?
A: Yes. In addition to the brand name, a complete description of the item indicating size, color, complete common name, model number and manufacturer's name should be included when possible. The more detailed the description, the less chance for supplier error.

Q: If I have a preference for a certain brand is that sufficient justification?
A: No. You must explain why a certain brand is the only brand that will meet your needs. Preferences are not acceptable criteria for a waiver of competition.

Q: If I have an approved brand-specific justification will the procurement still need to be bid?
A: Yes. Competition will need to be sought as brand-specific products are usually available from multiple suppliers.

Q: I have a sole source justification and a quotation from the company for a procurement. Can Purchasing Services use the quotation that I provide to process a purchase order?
A: No. Purchasing Services must have the quotation on the proper form containing the University's terms and conditions. These terms and conditions protect the University.

Related Data

North Carolina Administrative Code 05B .1401 Waiver of Competition
North Carolina Administrative Code 05B .1602 Contracting Requirements
North Carolina Administrative Code 05B .1602 Emergencies
- Solicitation of Bids and Quotations
1240 - Emergency or "Pressing Need" Purchases


Sole Source or Brand Specific Purchases Purchasing Services – Goods 919-962-3774 919-962-0636
Sole Source or Brand Specific Purchases Purchasing Services – Services 919-962-9463 919-962-6271


October 1, 2014: Revised naming of requisitions; added attachment information in Policy Statement.
July 26, 2010
November 13, 2003