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.
GW Paper Series
34 Nash & Cibinic Report ¶ 52 (Thomson Reuters 2020)