When the government considers buying from a sole source vs single source, the simplified procedures established under FAR Part 13 are designed to promote efficiency and economy in federal government contracting and to avoid unnecessary burdens for agencies and contractor.
When using simplified acquisition procedures, agencies are only required to obtain competition to the “maximum extent practicable.” 10 USC 2304 (g)(3); FAR Part 13.104; B&S Transport, Inc., B-407589, Dec. 27, 2012, 2012 CPD ¶ 354 at 2.
FAR Part 13 – Difference Between Single Source vs Sole Source Contracts
When buying from a single source contract using simplified acquisition vehicles, an agency can limit a solicitation to a brand-name item when “the basis for not providing maximum practicable competition is documented in the file [in accordance with FAR Part 13.106-1(b)] or justified when the acquisition is awarded using simplified acquisition procedures.” FAR Part 11.105(a)(2)(ii).
When looking at the single source vs sole source contract definition under FAR Part 13.106-1(b), sole sourcing means that the government has decided to only go to one contractor. A single source procurement means that there is only one source to get the service or product from.
Looking at the difference between sole source vs single source procurements, contracting officers may solicit from one source if the contracting officer determines that the circumstances of the contract action deem only one source reasonably available (e.g., urgency, exclusive licensing agreements, brand name or industrial mobilization).” FAR Part 13.106-1(b)(1).
Government contracting agencies would generate justification and approval documents to support a single source contract procurement with FAR 13.106-1(b). Oftentimes, a bid protest may require the agency to initiate a bridge contract to meet mission requirements while the bid protest process is on the way.
In such circumstances, it would not be reasonable for the agency to publish a solicitation and go through the traditional source selection process. This would obviously put the agency’s mission at risk.
Sole Source vs Single Source – Agencies Must Still Meet Legal Requirements in a Single Source Contract
Single source contracting agencies must always demonstrate that they have a reasonable basis to make a sole-source award. Agencies sometimes offer as a defense in bid protest litigation that it acted in “good faith” based on the best information available at the time.
However, when considering single source vs sole source procurement cases, GAO has also ruled that this is not a legitimate defense to a bid protest. Instead, the legal standard of review is based on whether the agency’s sole-source decision was reasonably based on the information reasonably available to the agency at the time of the sole-source decision, not whether the agency acted in good faith. See Ultraviolet Purification Sys. Inc., B-226941, Sept. 10, 1987, 87-2 CPD ¶ 229 at 3-4. See our services related to the Buy American Act.
It is usually not a good idea to file a protest that challenges the government’s decision in a single source contract under a bridge contract or similar circumstances. See additional information about sole source justifications and FAR 3.104.
- The agency must still meet the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act.
- This applies even to single source contracts.
For FAR government contracting solutions and for help challenging the federal government’s decision for sole supplier buys when using sole source vs single source contract procurement definition under FAR Part 13, call our government contracts law firm at 1-866-601-5518. FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.