Single Source Approval

Click here for the single Source Approval Form (PDF - 114KB)

When to apply for Single Source Approval

Where the value of the proposed purchase exceeds £5,000 excluding VAT and it has not been possible to obtain competitive quotations or proposals, but please refer to “Circumstances where Single Source Approval” cannot be given.

However, before a decision to apply for Single Source Approval is made, please ensure that Single Source Approval is actually needed in order for the purchase to proceed.  Single Source Approval is often sought when; following a request for more information from Procurement, evidence of competition (usually three competitive quotations) is available. It is therefore important to ensure that alternative quotations have not actually been obtained when deciding that a request for Single Source Approval is required.

Information required when applying for single source approval

Even where a standard exemption from competition set out in the University’s Manual of Financial Rules (MFR) applies to the request for Single Source Approval, some information in support of your request may be required. The objective in seeking information is to “make it easy” for a decision to support your Single Source Approval request to be agreed.  This includes:

  • If a standard exemption from competition is being sought/applied, what is the justification for applying that exemption?
  • How was the decision made that only the selected products/services can meet the requirement? Have alternatives been considered and if so what alternatives and what was the outcome of the evaluation?
  • What research has been undertaken that supports the decision that only the selected products or services meet the requirement?
  • How was the decision that only the nominated source of supply can provide the products or services made?
  • What research has been undertaken that supports the decision that only the nominated source can provide the products or services?
  • Have competitive quotations or proposals actually been obtained during the process of making the decision? (In some cases quotations may have been obtained, considered and rejected in favour of more detailed discussions with a specific supplier due to technical or other reasons – it is helpful to have this information).

It is helpful to provide similar support information when applying an exemption from competition (see further guidance under “Standard Exemptions from Competition”).

The basic principle of demonstrating the achievement of best value for money in the expenditure of its non-pay funds is delivered by the University by means of seeking competition for the procurement/purchase of its bought-in products and services.

The need to demonstrate, and provide evidence of competition/best value for money is also becoming more prevalent with many (if not all) of the sources that provide funds to the University.

However, it is recognised that it may not always be either feasible or cost effective to seek competition in the purchase of goods and services on every occasion. The MFR therefore permits purchases to proceed without competition subject to certain qualifying conditions being met and a case seeking approval for a purchase to proceed without competition being presented by the Budget Centre/College to the Director of Finance.

This means that assurance is given to the University and any Funders that an independent quality check has been undertaken and that a reasonable case has been presented in support of a decision to proceed without competition.

The Director of Finance has delegated this authority to the Procurement Division and the Director of Procurement and Insurance. In cases under £10k this is delegated to the University Buying Team.

Circumstances where Single Source Approval is not necessary

  • Where the value of the proposed purchase, or series of purchases, is less than £5,000 excluding VAT.
  • Where competition has been sought and evidence of the competitive process (generally in the form of competitive quotations) can be provided. Single Source Approval are often sought when, following a request for more information from Procurement, evidence of competition is available. It is therefore important to ensure that alternative quotations have not actually been obtained when deciding that a request for Single Source Approval is required.
  • Where a strategic partnership with other public sector organisation is in place. 

Circumstances where Single Source Approval cannot be given

  • The value of the purchase exceeds £181,302 excluding VAT (the financial threshold for competition stipulated by the Public Sector Supply Regulations).
  • The contract or arrangement with the Funder does not permit purchases without competition, such funders or sources include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)/European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF), and the Wellcome Trust, which set out specific procurement procedures.
  • There is a Framework Agreement in place with more than one Approved Supplier and the value of the purchase is greater than £10k.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and any Single Source Approval is subject to the delegated authority being satisfied that the case is properly justified.

Please also note that any Single Source Approval granted where there is uncertainty as to whether the Funder will accept or support single source approvals will carry some financial and commercial risk and this will be notified in any approvals granted.

 

Standard Exemptions from Competition

  • The MFR includes certain exemptions where competition need not be sought, but Single Source Approval is still required when seeking to apply any of the exemptions.
  • Standard exemptions cannot generally apply where any of the Circumstances where
  • Single Source Approval cannot be given prevail.
  • The exemptions that are available are as set out below.  In most cases additional information in support of the application of the exemption is required as indicated.
  • Proprietary items available from only owner of intellectual property rights; copyrights or distribution rights - Additional information required: please refer to Information required when applying for single source approval.
  • Price controlled by Government Regulation - Additional information required: relevant documentation if Regulation is not public domain.
  • Repairs or Parts for existing plant, equipment or machinery where it is considered that the original supplier should carry out the repairs or parts are not available from any other supplier - Additional information required: generally no further information is required but may be requested at the delegated authority’s discretion.
  • The items to be purchased are to upgrade existing equipment or software and it is considered that the original supplier should be used because either:
    • The original supplier is the owner of the intellectual property rights and/or copyrights in the products or software.
    • The original supplier is the sole distributor or agent for the equipment in the UK.
    • There is substantial risk in using a third party to upgrade (additional evidence and information required).
    • Using a third party would invalidate any warranty or maintenance agreements Additional information required: with the exception of the third party exemption, generally no further information is required but may be requested at delegated authority’s discretion.  For the third party exemption a brief statement identifying the risks is required.
  • The items to be purchased are used; or second hand or ex-demonstration and being sold at a substantially reduced price; Additional information: provide information indicating the actual or estimated price of new.
  • Exemptions from quotation or tender thresholds can be obtained where the requirements meet the following criteria;
    • There are no specific EU Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) Codes that cover this requirement.
    • These are payments to other public institutions that are carrying out work on our behalf, or in collaboration with the University, e.g. research collaborations or clinical trials work involving other Universities, Hospitals and other Health Services, etc.

Authorisation for an exception request would come via the Director of Procurement and Insurance and must meet the above criteria. Exemption is requested when the trials project is approved and would include milestones or known payment schedules as part of the approval process.

Please note: Research funds such as; Economic Challenge Investment Fund (ECIF) or similar cannot be exempt due to the procurement terms required with the funding. Also, procurement may still need to run a Voluntary Ex Anti Transparency (VEAT) or a Schedule 3 (social and other specific services) procedure prior to authorisation.

Completing the Form

The form used prior to the launch of New Core has been updated.  It is now a “typable .pdf” and handwriting is no longer required.  You as the end-user are required to complete all sections, apart from the blue section at the bottom of the form.  This is for the Category Managers only, to approve or decline the request, and give their justification.

If you miss out any sections that are required, you will get a warning message when you save the file.  You will need to complete those sections, or your request may be rejected.

You are no longer required to email the form to a college based SSA inbox.  Instead, you must completed an SSA form and attach it to your requisition in Oracle prior to submission, where it will be assessed by Procurement.

What to do if the request is rejected

If a request for Single Source Approval is rejected, then the requisition will be rejected in Oracle, and reasons for that rejection will be provided by the Category Manager in that process.  The option to contact the Procurement Team to discuss any issues arising, or to resubmit the requisition, providing additional, relevant information is always available.

Our aim is to ensure that we can work together to ensure that the standards of accountability and probity required by the University (through the MFR) are maintained – requests for Single Source Approvals will not be declined without providing reasons.