Monday morning federal headlines – Nov. 21, 2011

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Nobody’s holding out any hope of a last-minute surprise agreement to cut more than a trillion in deficits over the next decade, the Associated Press reported. The special bipartisan “supercommittee” is expected to call it quits today, with nothing to show for the two months of talks. The finger-pointing continues from both sides, with Democrats saying they couldn’t get Republicans to boost taxes enough for wealthy Americans, and Republicans saying Democrats weren’t serious about entitlement reform. The non-decision is supposed to trigger the “doomsday option,” meaning across-the-board cuts will take effect. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Government Accountability Office took a closer look at how Commerce shares services with Census through its Working Capital Funds, according to a GAO press release. GAO investigators say that the guidance doesn’t define the roles and responsibilities for the WCF personnel at Commerce and Census. And, they say while Commerce’s process is transparent, Census’ transparency needs work. GAO has seven recommendations, including updating guidance, establishing a process to measure performance, and examining opportunities to consolidate certain WCF services. The Commerce Secretary agreed with all of GAO’s recommendations. (GAO)
  • Congress appears to be on track to wrap the remaining nine annual appropriations bills for 2012 into a single omnibus when it returns to work after Thanksgiving. Senate leaders had hoped to break the bills into smaller minibuses, but The Hill reports that strategy hit a speedbump. The first “minibus” was signed by the President on Friday, providing funds for Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and HUD. It extends funding to other agencies until mid-December. But the second minibus failed. It contained funds for Energy and government water projects and could’ve included State Department and financial services agencies. Sources tell The Hill that an omnibus the most likely option since the current temporary spending bill expires Dec. 16. (The Hill)
  • The European Union and the U.S. are sharing names. The Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and lead negotiator for the United States government, Jane Holl Lute, says in a press release that officials have hammered out an agreement on the transfer and future sharing of Passenger Name Records. Lute says the agreement demonstrates how the U.S. is working with the European Union to fight transnational threats while respecting civil liberties and privacy. This is the first time the two nations have had a single agreement on how to share Passenger Name Records. (DHS)
  • Agencies have four months to develop diversity and inclusion plans under a broad new governmentwide strategy. Proponents say, by making the President’s Management Council responsible for progress, the strategy will succeed where past measures have failed. The guidance emphasizes training and suggests agencies form diversity and inclusion councils. (Federal News Radio)