1232 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Sole Source or Brand-Specific Purchases



The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "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.

Scope of Applicability

Applies to all UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty and Staff.


Policy Statement

Requisitions in excess of the Small Purchase Benchmark, as defined in Finance Policy 1251: Small Order Policy, that designate only one vendor, brand, or model as being capable of fulfilling the requester's needs must be accompanied by Finance Form 1232.1f: Waiver of Competition which can be attached in ConnectCarolina. The Waiver of Competition form must include a thorough justification within the space provided or as a separate attachment with "See Attached" indicated in the justification block, explaining 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.


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

  1. For small order purchases: Individuals authorized to use the small order procedure must still search for best-value products before expending University funds.
  2. Where performance or price competition is not available.
  3. Where the needed product or service is available only from one source.
  4. Where emergency action is indicated.  (Please include in justification the emergent danger to personnel or property requiring immediate action)
  5. Where competition has been solicited but no satisfactory offers received.
  6. Where standardization or compatibility is the overriding consideration and it can only be achieved through the purchase of a unique product.
  7. Where a donation predicates the source of supply.
  8. Where personal or particular professional services are required.
  9. Where a particular medical product, service, or prosthetic appliance is needed.
  10. Where a product or service is needed for the blind or severely disabled and there are overriding considerations for its use.
  11. Where additional products or services are needed to complete an ongoing job or task.
  12. Where products are bought for "over the counter" resale.
  13. 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).
  14. Where equipment is already installed. connected, and in service and it is determined advantageous to purchase it.
  15. Where items are subject to rapid price fluctuation or immediate acceptance.
  16. Where there is evidence of resale, price maintenance or other control price, lawful or unlawful, or collusion on the part of companies, which thwarts normal competitive procedures.
  17. Where the amount of the purchase is too small to justify soliciting competition or where a purchase is being made and a satisfactory price is available from a previous contract.
  18. Where the requirement is for an authorized cooperative project with another governmental unit(s) or a charitable non-profit organizations(s).
  19. Where a used item(s) is available on short notice and subject to prior sale.

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 Administrative Code 01 NCAC 05B .1401 - Waiver of Competition Policy. Proper written justification is required regardless of whether the purchase comes from a sole source or is brand-specific.

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 Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contacts
Subject Contact Telephone Fax E-Mail
Sole Source or Brand Specific Purchases Purchasing Services - Goods 919-962-3774 919-962-0636 purchasing_team@unc.edu
Sole Source or Brand Specific Purchases Purchasing Services - Services 919-962-9463 919-962-6271 purchasing_team@unc.edu



  • May 10, 2022
  • October 14, 2021
  • February 28, 2020
  • February 28, 2018
  • October 1, 2014: Revised naming of requisitions; added attachment information in Policy Statement.
  • July 26, 2010
  • November 13, 2003


Article ID: 131426
Thu 4/8/21 9:08 PM
Sun 8/28/22 12:30 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/01/2022 8:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Director of Purchasing Services
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/01/2025 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
03/03/1998 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget