DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) issued an RFP (Request for Proposal) for Kyocera printers that use "PRESCRIBE" software. One potential bidder protested, alleging that this specification unduly restricted competition. According to the protestor, there are no equivalent printers on the market and the "PRESCRIBE" software is proprietary and comes only on Kyocera printers. The protestor requested, as relief, that DLA remove the requirement for PRESCRIBE software and reprogram its electronic distribution system to accept any commercial printer and industry standard print software. Doing so, according to the protestor would be more cost effective and more reliable as well.
The GAO (Comptroller General) disagreed and denied the request.
According to the GAO, contracting agencies have broad discretion in identifying their needs and determining what characteristics will satisfy those needs. The fact that specifications are based upon a particular product is not improper in and of itself nor will an assertion that a specification was written for design features of a particular product provide a basis for protest if the record establishes that the specification is reasonably related to the agency's minimum needs.
DLA maintained that the requirement for Kyocera or equal that use PRESCRIBE software was necessary to meet the agency's needs, that it had evaluated various other options but concluded that configuring its electronic distribution system to accommodate each potential vendor's printing software would not be efficient and could end up costing considerably more in the long run. DLA also found that the PRESCRIBE software was available for other printers.
the GAO concluded that DLA had reasonable concluded that brand name Kyocera printers or equal that use PRESCRIBE software was necessary to meet the agency's needs and denied the protest.
You can read the full text of the decision here.