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“We want to communicate and provide clarity on how companies can get involved and how to compete,” he said after the briefing.

Asked about the media policy for the event, Mr. Hanlon said, “I’m an open book. To me, the press is welcome without an invitation. But I don’t want to dictate to them how to manage their event.”

Tony Robinson, spokesman for City Administrator Allen Y. Lew, who oversees DGS, said such private audiences with Gray administration officials are not uncommon. But he could not account for why Holland & Knight bars the media.

Mr. Robinson noted that other law firms that host similar briefings usually open the event to the public.

“Personally, I don’t see having the press there as a bad thing,” he said. “This is where a private firm could use a primer in media relations. In hindsight, it would have been appropriate for us to ask if it was alright if the press attended.”