Reference Number: 
CTAS-933

The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing defines a sole source purchase as “a contract for the purchase of goods and services entered into after soliciting and negotiating with only one source, usually because of the technology or uniqueness required.”1

Sole source purchases are goods and services available from only one supplier. There may be just one vendor because of patents or copyrights or simply because the vendor is the only one which supplies the good or service.2  These types of purchases should require written justification and documentation (e.g., is the product available from only one source and not merchandised through wholesalers, jobbers, or retailers or is the product or service unique and easily established as one of a kind?).3

The County Purchasing Law of 1983 contains a provision exempting sole source purchases from competitive bidding in counties that are governed by T.C.A. § 5-14-204.


            1National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Public Purchasing and Materials Management, (Reston, VA : 1983),  28.

            2ibid, 50.

            3George Street, County Purchasing, The University of Tennessee, CTAS, 38.