Help on... Single Source Authorisation

All purchases of goods and services undertaken by University members of staff should demonstrate Value for Money. In order to obtain Value for Money, purchasing activities are subject to the Financial Regulations which ensure purchasing decisions are carried out in accordance with the relevant UK legislation.

Where a purchaser is unable to comply with the Financial Regulations and seek competition through quotation or formal tendering routes, then it is necessary to complete a Single Source Authorisation (SSA) form.

This relates to purchases that are over £5,000.

The SSA form records the reason why the purchaser believes the goods or services can only be purchased from a single source and acts as an auditable record of the process followed and the decision taken.

Five reasons for which the decision to single source may apply:

Single source/sole supply The goods or services are only available from one source for technical or artistic reasons or for reasons connected with the protection of exclusive rights.
Compatibility The goods required are a partial replacement for or are an addition to existing goods. If the goods were purchased from an alternative supplier, the University would acquire goods with different technical characteristics that would result in:
  • incompatibility with the existing goods
  • disproportionate technical difficulty in the operation of the existing goods
Emergency An emergency justification may exist if the goods or services are required to:
correct or prevent an emergency health, environmental or safety hazard
enable the emergency repair or replacement of existing equipment essential for daily operations
No quotes If a request for three quotations has been issued and no suppliers submitted a quotation or the quotations submitted are not acceptable, e.g. do not meet time constraints, do not meet specifications.
Other If you believe you had another valid reason not to obtain three quotes please contact Procurement for advice.

Completing the SSA form

The SSA form must be completed in full (including any supporting documentation) and is subject to necessary approvals prior to any authorisation being granted.

The required approvals are as follows:

  1. If your request for SSA is between £5,000 and £50,000*, the form must be signed by the proposer and authorised by the Departmental Authoriser (not below Department Manager level or Faculty Finance Manager).
  2. If your request for SSA exceeds £50,000*, the form must be signed by the proposer, the Departmental Authoriser and also forwarded to Procurement for authorisation.

 * see also Single source with external funding

Authorised SSA forms

The authorised SSA form should be retained within the requesting department for audit purposes for a period of 7 years.

A copy of the authorised form should also be attached to the purchase order and notes should be made in the header text section of the purchase order to indicate that an SSA process has been followed.

For guidance on attaching documents to purchase orders in uBASE and adding notes into the header text, please click here.

Aggregation rule

The purchase of goods and services at the University are subject to the aggregation rule. Please be aware that the procurement thresholds apply to the aggregate (total) value of all requirements for the purchase, lease, rental or hire of goods and services of a similar type. This applies to your requirement both now and over either four years or the grant period. Further information on aggregation can be found here.

Single source with external funding

Any decision to authorise a single source must be made in conjunction with particular grant funding conditions.

  • If the purchase is being funded by the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the UKRI threshold relating to procurement processes will apply, and any SSA request over £25,000 should also be forwarded to Procurement for authorisation.
  • If the purchase is being funded by ERDF or ESIF, Single Source Authorisations are not permitted. Three quotes or a tendering exercise are required.

Please note, as of 3rd April 2018, funding body ‘Research Councils UK’ (RCUK) has been replaced by a new umbrella organisation called the ‘UK Research & Innovation’ (UKRI).


Need help or more information?

For further information about this guidance contact the Procurement Office.