Businesses submitting bids, responses to requests for qualifications, and proposals to state and local agencies must remember that generally their submissions are subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act (PRA). The PRA has limited exceptions. Many contractors and professionals have learned this lesson the hard way and only after their submissions are produced in response to a public records request — usually from a competitor.
The most recent example involves a law firm that responded to a request for qualifications from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. The firm’s predecessor firm previously made a proposal in 2004. The prior proposal was disclosed by the Attorney General’s Office in response to a PRA request in 2005. Subsequently, a 2009 proposal that the firm made to a Florida agency was published in a national legal trade publication that was available on the Internet.
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