Wednesday morning federal headlines – Dec. 19, 2012

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

  • Federal cheapskates take the spotlight today. The White House has announced the four finalists in its annual SAVE Awards. The program recognizes federal employees who come up with ideas for saving money. The White House received 10,000 ideas, compared to 19,000 last year. The four finalists are Frederick Winter of the Education Department, Angela Leroux of the IRS, James Szender of the Interior Department and Laurie Dempsey of Homeland Security. The winner gets to present his or her idea to President Obama personally. (Federal News Radio)
  • Investigators of the deadly terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya report to Congress today. Testimony from the Accountability Review Board takes place this morning in a secret hearing before the Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committees. An unclassified version of the report scores State Department leaders and managers for gross security lapses in the Sept. 11 incident. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to testify, but she fell and suffered a concussion. Clinton issued a statement saying she accepted the panel’s 29 recommendations. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Marine Corps recruiting office has ended its sponsorship of Ultimate Fighting Championship events. A petition campaign has been protesting. It says behavior by some of the sport’s participants is sexist and pro-violence. Maj. John Caldwell tells GovExec the Marines will advertise elsewhere. He cited evolving mission requirements, budgetary constraints and marketing analysis. The campaign was organized in May by a Nevada union called Unite Here. It consists of veterans, gay rights advocates and anti-violence organizations. Owners of Ultimate Fighting say the union was disgruntled because it couldn’t organize culinary workers at the UFC casinos. (GovExec)
  • Federal unions are pouncing on a compromise plan in the fiscal cliff talks. President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner are both said to support a plan to reduce Cost of Living Allowances for federal and military retirees. The American Federation of Government Employees said Obama “could not have picked a worse item” to support. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association rejected the measure as well. The COLA adjustment, which would also affect Social Security, would save nearly $220 billion over 10 years. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has harsh criticism for the makers of the new film “Zero Dark Thirty,” which depicts the hunt for Osama bin Laden. McCain watched the film on Monday. He says the movie falsely suggests that waterboarding 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to information on Bin Laden’s whereabouts. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before Congress last year that the information that led to the Bin Laden raid did not come from Mohammed. In fact, McCain said, the harsh interrogation of Mohammed produced only false and misleading information. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed. McCain, who was tortured during the Vietnam War, has long opposed waterboarding. (Federal News Radio)