In the Winter Audit Connection, there was an article clarifying the differences between brand name specification versus sole source procurement. There are additional requirements for brand name procurement when federal funding is used.
To review, Brand Name Specification occurs when a government determines a specific brand of equipment is necessary to meet their operational needs. The local government should draft specifications of what they intend to purchase, what specific brand is required, and document why only this specific manufacturer’s equipment is necessary to meet their operational needs, as well as why another manufacturer’s equipment could not be substituted. Based on the estimated cost of the purchase, the government would then follow applicable procurement processes.
Here is the important part to note: if all or a portion of federal funds are used to make the purchase, the local government must also include in the specifications and allowance for “an equal product” to be offered. They then must describe the performance or other relevant requirements of the product for procurement to ensure they are not limiting free and open competition (2 CFR §200.319(a)). In the event the brand desired is only available from one manufacturer or vendor, a sole source procurement of the purchase would not be allowable under federal guidelines as it would not allow for “an equal product” to be offered.