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Behind the Curtain: Lobbying Firms Read Competitors' Business Pitches Behind the Curtain: Lobbying Firms Read Competitors' Business Pitches

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Influence

Behind the Curtain: Lobbying Firms Read Competitors' Business Pitches

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  FILE - The Jan. 7, 2005 file photo shows Hungarian State Security Archives researcher Laszlo Farkas looking at microfilms containing documents from Hungary's communist past in Budapest, Hungary. People spied on by Hungary's communist-era secret police would gain the right to pull reports on the surveillance out of the state archives under an unprecedented government proposal that historians say would damage to the country's ability to know about its past. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky) FILE - The Jan. 7, 2005 file photo shows Hungarian State Security Archives researcher Laszlo Farkas looking at microfilms containing documents from Hungary's communist past in Budapest, Hungary. People spied on by Hungary's communist-era secret police would gain the right to pull reports on the surveillance out of the state archives under an unprecedented government proposal that historians say would damage to the country's ability to know about its past. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)  (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

Here's one way to get a leg up on your K Street competition: Read the business proposals they give to prospective clients.

That's what three firms did earlier this year after they lost a bid to lobby for Los Angeles World Airports in Washington.

In March, L.A. Airports, a  department of the city, issued an RFP for Hill and administration advocacy work. Ten proposals were submitted and the Gephardt Group won the contract, said Mark Adams the airports' government affairs director. 
AP050107123593.jpg
Then three firms, McAllister & Quinn, Van Scoyoc Associates and Alcalde & Fay, requested copies of their competitors' proposals, the airports' spokeswoman Nancy Castles said.

The move had some on K Street scratching their heads.

"Is it a competitive advantage? Do you think it's an inside job? Or is it just sour grapes?" asked one lobbyist from a firm that also bid on, and lost, the contract.

But lobbyists with Van Scoyoc and McAllister said they regularly make open record requests to see how their bids stacked up against their competitors.
"We did request the evaluations that the airport authority did, just to see how we ranked. That's something that we do when there are public entity [RFPs]," Van Scoyoc's Ross Kyle told the Alley. "It's just a way for us to learn how our proposals were received and how we could do better," Kyle said.
McAllister & Quinn officials wanted to improve their chances of drafting a winning bid next time.
"We occasionally request copies of proposals that are in the public procurement process to see if there is anything we can learn and perhaps improve upon," said McAllister & Quinn's David Grenham.
Adams said these kinds of requests are just part of the game. 
"We just assume people want to see what the competition is up to and what they can do better the next time around," he said.
Repeated requests for comment from Alcalde & Fay were not returned.
AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky

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