Qualifying for a Direct Award

A Direct Award is the award of a supply contract or services agreement to one supplier selected without a public, open competition. Direct Awards are only allowed at UVic under certain exceptional circumstances.

As a publicly funded institution, UVic is required by law and policy to conduct a public competition for most purchases and services agreements over $15,000 in total value. Fair and open competition helps obtain best value for the university and ensures accountability in the use of public funds.

Direct Awards are only approved under limited circumstances that meet funding agency, policy, and trade agreement obligations. All Direct Reward requests must be reviewed for compliance with Purchasing Services Policy FM5105, Signing Authority Policy FM5100, UVic's Supplier Code of Conduct, and applicable trade agreements.

A Direct Award form is NOT required:

  1. for purchases under $15,000; or
  2. if the vendor has been selected through a competitive process such as a Request for Quotation or Request for Proposals.

Purchases $15,000 - $75,000: Clients must collect and submit three quotes from different vendors before deciding between them. Purchasing can assist in obtaining such quotes or conducting a competitive procurement. If a Direct Award is requested, no contractual commitments should be made before Purchasing Services has reviewed and approved the request.

Direct Awards of $75,000 and overUVic must publicly post a Notice of Intent (NOI), which allows vendors to challenge an intended Direct Award. If additional potential suppliers are identified through the NOI process, an evaluation of the response(s) will be required.

Direct Award form

Exceptions to the Public Competition Requirement

Exceptions to the requirement for public competition originate in the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), Purchasing Services Policy FM5105, and funding agency requirements. CETA and CFTA allow procuring entities to use limited tendering (i.e. Direct Awards) in the circumstances listed below, provided that the Direct Award is not undertaken to avoid competition or to discriminate against suppliers. Purchasing Services Policy FM5105 mandates that procurement activities must comply with trade agreements and be conducted in a fair, transparent, and equitable way. Funding agencies require UVic's compliance with the Direct Award provisions in Purchasing Services Policy FM5105.

The following exceptions to the requirement for public competition outline when Direct Award may be possible.

No Alternate Supplier Exists

Only one supplier is capable of supplying the goods for one of the following reasons:

  • only one supplier can meet the technical specifications of the good or service;
  • the requested good is an original work of art; or
  • the requested good is protected by a patent, copyright, or other exclusive rights.

Note that any technical specifications or specializations must be developed based on genuine work requirements. The requirements must directly facilitate necessary project outcomes.

This Sole Source exception may include:

  • highly specialized equipment for particular operational needs where only one manufacturer/seller exist.

This Sole Source exception does NOT include:

  • familiarity or positive experience with the existing supplier
  • having an existing relationship with a supplier
  • commercial contracts with research partners
  • renewing a contract to avoid the effort of a competition
  • service or repair by a recommended third party
  • preference for a particular supplier

Guiding Questions:

  • Can I get this product from another manufacturer?
  • Is there another vendor that can provide this service?
  • Is the product an original item?

Original or Entrenched Supplier

The requested good or service is an additional delivery by an original supplier which is intended as replacement parts or installations, and a change of supplier would cause significant inconvenience or substantial duplication of costs.

Note that the cost of changing suppliers is not in itself a justification for Direct Award; alternate suppliers may be willing to absorb that cost.

This exception may include:

  • supply of parts or additional equipment for a proprietary system available only from one seller
  • service or repair of equipment by the original equipment manufacturer
  • equipment that adds to an existing fleet where the interchangeability of parts produces significant savings

This exception does NOT include:

  • familiarity or a positive experience with the existing supplier
  • having an existing relationship with a supplier
  • commercial contracts with research partners
  • renewing a contract to avoid the effort of a competition
  • service or repair by a third party
  • preference for a particular supplier

Guiding Questions:

  • Can I get this product from another manufacturer?
  • Does this product add to an existing item?

Extreme Unforeseeable Urgency

This exception applies in situations of unforeseen emergency, i.e., circumstances that you could not have predicted. The unforeseeable emergency must result in immediate need that does not allow enough time for the normal solicitation processes. You can only use this exception for urgent situations that your department deems unforeseeable.

This exception may include:

  • disruption of the supply chain due to external factors, catastrophe, failure of equipment, and contract termination due to breach by an existing supplier
  • unforeseen circumstances that pose risk to health and safety

This exception does NOT include:

  • insufficient planning ahead for procurement
  • imminent expiration of an essential contract
  • urgency created by internal deadlines
  • imminent expiration of unspent funding
  • failure to account for routine maintenance

Guiding Questions:

  • Are you in a situation of unforeseen emergency that requires an immediate solution?
  • Are you looking for a temporary supplier replacement? (For example, a supplier you receive regular shipments from suddenly goes out of business and you need a temporary replacement while we go to market.)

Prototype for Research

The first product or service has been or will be developed at UVic's request in the course of an experiment, study, or original development.

This exception may include:

  • development of instruments or components for research

This exception does NOT include:

  • a product or service not developed in the course of and for a particular contract for research, experiment, study, or original development
  • production runs following the development of a prototype

Guiding Questions:

  • Is the product developed for use in a contract for research?
  • Is the product a custom-manufactured item for research, experiment, study, or original development?

Design Contest

This exemption applies if the request is for the procurement of goods created in a preceding design contest. The contest must have been organized in a manner that is consistent with principles relating to the publication of a tender notice, and the participants must be judged by an independent jury with the intent that a contract be awarded to the winner.

This exception may include:

  • a product that was designed and judged in the course of a contest

This exception does NOT include:

  • a product that was created outside the contest context

Guiding Questions:

  • Was the product designed for use in a particular contest?

Exceptional Advantage

This exemption applies where exceptionally advantageous conditions arise in the very short-term. Exceptional advantage scenarios include unusual disposals, which occur when companies go out of business. These provide an opportunity for one-time, minimal-cost purchases.

This exception may include:

  • close-out sales
  • specially negotiated second-hand sales
  • bulk purchase of discontinued items

This exception does NOT include:

  • negotiated discounts on stock items
  • routine sales

Guiding Questions:

  • Is this a one-time, limited opportunity with significant benefits?


If you believe only one supplier can meet your requirements for reasons other than those described above, or you are in doubt as to whether you request meets the requirements, you may contact your Purchasing Officer or Purchasing Services via purchaseadmin@uvic.ca