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.
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