It isn’t uncommon for the government to issue a sole source award when only one company or organization is able to satisfy the agency’s needs. Agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Coast Guard have more leeway and may issue a sole source award if the number of potential sources is limited. To issue these sole source awards, however, certain requirements must be met, many of which a company may have no control over while making the bid.

Requirements of the Sole Source Award

Sole source awards must meet the following requirements:

  • No pending or upcoming solicitations may be reassembled.
  • The government would not save money if it considered other competition.
  • Delays in the project would be unacceptable if the bid was not a sole source.

Additional Criteria

Only one of the following criteria must be met for a project to be awarded as a sole source:

  • Only one responsible source can provide the services or supplies.
  • Unusual or compelling urgency is not the result of the government’s lack of planning.
  • Industrial mobilization is essential, including engineering, developmental, or research capability, or expert services.
  • It satisfies an international agreement.
  • It is required by statute.
  • It is a matter of national security or public interest.

When approving a sole source bid for a government contract, the reasons cited must be explained. The explanation also must describe the efforts the government agency made to solicit as many sources as possible. And, depending on the value of the award, additional approvals may be required. With few exceptions, the justification of the sole source should be made publicly available 14 days after the contract is awarded and must remain available for a minimum of 30 days on an appropriate government website.

When it comes to being granted a sole source award, you’ll have to deal with a lot of moving parts, including being the only organization to provide specific services. Although you may not be able to specifically bid on these contracts, you can be more prepared for the occasion in which they may become available.

To learn more about sole source awards, contact us today at 703-218-3600 or click here. To review our government contracting articles, click here. To learn more about MCB’s government contracting practice and our experts, click here.


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