Competitive Bidding


If a good or service is available from an available contract or supplier competitive bidding isn't applicable.

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Sole Source

A sole source exists when goods or services are only available from a single source because of unique characteristics or other reasons. A Sole Source Justification Form* is reviewed and approved by Central Procurement before placing an order. 



  • Patented provider of custom-designed parts.
  • Manufacturer is the only reseller of parts compatible with existing onsite machinery.
  • Provider is the only expert in the United States on the research of insect species.
  • Supplier is the only reseller of their designed software for measuring injury related to brain waves.

Not Approved

  • You worked with the company for many years.
  • You looked at other sources and liked this supplier the best.
  • This is the only company that can digitally print.
  • Your 50-person event is tonight, and this is the only caterer who can support us at this time.




SIMBA>>Purchasing>>Shop OnLion>>Shop>>Free Text


Free Text hands-on guide (DOCX).

*Forms may be used in legal proceedings to challenge a competitor. 

Reverse Auctions

Buyers schedule a live, real-time, virtual bidding event with qualified and preselected suppliers for a large number of standard items with common specifications, such as vehicles, furniture, and audiovisual equipment. If you are unsatisfied with the bids, Penn State can reject the auction results. 

Why choose a reverse auction?

Choosing a reverse auction instead of a traditional written bid or proposal can typically save money. 

How do I start the reverse auction process?

Use the Procurement Search Tool to identify the responsible buyer for the good you would like to purchase. The buyer will research the starting price.

How long does a reverse auction last?

An auction could last a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the items auctioned. Events for commodity items can be completed in a few minutes, while more complex items or multiple lots of items can require more time as suppliers sharpen their pencils behind the scenes. 

Where are reverse auctions held?

Buyers attend the live event in Central Procurement's conference room. Requesters are welcome to attend.