NBN panel issues gag order reminder

Stephen Conroy's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has written to National Broadband Network bidders reminding them of the so-called 'gag order' against revealing information regarding their bids or the tender process.

Stephen Conroy's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has written to National Broadband Network bidders reminding them of the so-called "gag order" against revealing information regarding their bids or the tender process.

"Now that we have reached this stage of the process, the panel of experts will be writing all proponents reminding them of their obligations under the RFP [request for proposals]," Conroy's spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au this week in response to a question on whether the government had been cracking down on bidders getting too talkative.

Before the bids were due last week, Communications Minister Conroy had said that he would not be announcing the companies who handed in proposals, as they would likely announce themselves. After this comment, all of the bidders did put out statements about their bids.

However, over the past week, the flow of information from bidders has slowed, with several bidders shutting off the tap altogether or expressing a belief that information would need to be passed through the department first.

Government tender processes generally require respondents not to talk publicly about their bids, although some in the NBN process, such as Telstra, have discussed their bids relatively openly.

Although Optus would not comment on whether it had received a letter or not, Optus' director of government and corporate affairs Maha Krishnapillai has told ZDNet.com.au previously that there were expectations of silence.

"They have told us in no uncertain terms that there are very strict requirements for the RFP," he said. "You can talk about policy issues," Krishnapillai continued, but said that talking about specific details of bids put bidders on "very dangerous ground".

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