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Chapter 8 - Describing the Need - Specifications and Requirements

8.6 Brand name specifications

8.6.0 Brand name specifications

Brand name specifications are the most restrictive type of specification. Brand specifications should only be used when there is only one brand, which for reasons of expertise and/or standardization, quality, compatibility with existing equipment, specifications or availability is the only brand acceptable to meet a specific need. When it is determined to be impractical to develop a generic specification, a brand name may be referenced to convey the general style, type, character and quality of the article desired. Unless otherwise provided in the solicitation the name of a certain brand, make or manufacturer does not restrict potential suppliers to the specific brand or manufacturer named. In addition, a brand specification (or sole acceptable brand) may be available from more than one source and should be competed. Any agency which is brand-specific in its IT needs should be mindful that any rejection of similar, but not brand-specific, products should be based solely on an equitable evaluation of comparable products and their failure to meet a specific stated need.

Brand specifications may be used to establish a standard of quality except when buying personal computers. If a brand specification is used, it should include the common generic identification of the IT product, the make, the model or catalog number and the name and address of the manufacturer as well as an itemization of the salient characteristics, performance or other criteria that are required of the brand name IT product. A brand specification should only be used to purchase a standard IT product for which a complete definition is impractical. Use of a brand name specification can promote competition if there are enough "equals" to the brand in the marketplace. Brand name or equivalent specifications shall seek to designate three, or as many different brands as are practicable, as "or equivalent" references and shall further state that substantially equivalent products to those designated may be considered for award.

A brand name proprietary specification restricts the acceptable IT products to those of one or more specified manufacturers. It is appropriate to use a proprietary specification when the desired product must be compatible with or is an integral component of existing equipment or products, or where prequalification of products is necessary to support specific needs of a program; is covered by a patent or copyright; must yield absolute continuity of results; or is one with which an agency has had extensive training and experience, and the use of any other similar piece of equipment would require considerable reorientation and training. Every effort should be made in the solicitation process to obtain full competition among value-added resellers (VARs) or distributors which carry the manufacturer's IT product.

A written determination for the use of a proprietary specification must be made in advance of the procurement and be included in the procurement file.

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