Sole source justifications (SSJs) are a requirement at most institutions where purchasing items (supplies, equipment, services, etc.) over a certain monetary threshold requires a multi factorial explanation on why said items can only come from one source. Many find the writing of SSJs cumbersome and do not understand why the explanation that this is the item they want to purchase is justification enough. However, the purchasing department must have valid reasons as to why these items cannot be procured through a full and open competition where any capable vendor may bid on the contract. While most institutions have their own templates for requesting an appropriate SSJ, this article describes the basic steps inherit in substantiating all such a purchase requisitions.

Title the word processing document as a Sole Source Justification for the specific purchase order number, if applicable, and list any institutional policy numbers on why a sole source is required for this requisition.

Describe the particular uses of the item. State specifically what the item is going to be for and what it will do. Include here any project numbers and titles that the material in question will support.

State the distinguishing characteristics of the item and why this is the only one that will fulfill the requirements. This may include being an add-on to an existing system or the replacement of an existing system. Copyrights and trademarks may be applicable here depending on the situation.

Explain what would happen if another, unequal item were procured instead. Include any training delays, alteration of standard operating procedures, etc. that would cost the institution time, funds and overall completion of projects.

Outline the work performed to determine what other, similar items are offered from other vendors and why these items will not satisfy the requirements stated in the previous steps. This may need to be explicit to include: company names, contact information, and in some cases, valid quotes.

Include the name, title and contact information of the primary contact for the SSJ (this does not have to be the person who wrote it) and include a copy along with the order.


Always follow the suggested institutional template for an SSJ if one is available as this is most sure fire way of getting one approved. Talk to others who have written SSJs and ask to see their examples of successful submissions. Likewise, once you have a successful submission, keep that document in a safe place and base all future ones on that It is obviously important to provide as much information as possible concerning the requisitioned items; the less time that purchasing has to spend coming back to and asking questions to the originator of the SSJ, the less time it will take to get the items.


The purchasing process is becoming stricter across the board and SSJs are becoming more complicated and burdensome. Take this process seriously and show respect for the procedures and hope for the best.