Brand Name or Equal: Without 'Equal,' It's Not Competitive

8 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2020

See all articles by Steven L. Schooner

Steven L. Schooner

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: 2020


One of the more common rules in federal government procurement is that the Government may describe its needs to the private sector by specifying a “brand name” product, as long as the Government adds the words “or equal” to the brand name and articulates the product’s salient physical, functional, or performance characteristics that are essential to the Government’s needs. This broadens the potential for competition and helps reduce the government's reliance on unduly restrictive specifications.

Two recent examples - one the subject of a GAO bid protest decision, the other a recently posted commercial-item procurement - suggest that, while some basic, longstanding, foundational issues in federal procurement remain largely unchanged, that doesn't mean they are not ignored.

Keywords: Government Contracts, Public Procurement, competition, brand name, unduly restrictive specifications, Competition in Contracting Act (CICA)

JEL Classification: H57, K12, K23

Suggested Citation

Schooner, Steven L., Brand Name or Equal: Without 'Equal,' It's Not Competitive (2020). 34 Nash & Cibinic Report ¶ 52 (Thomson Reuters 2020), GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-72, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2020-72, Available at SSRN:

Steven L. Schooner (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-3037 (Phone)
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