OTTAWA - A panel of federal Conservatives and Liberals will hold its first face-to-face meeting this week to negotiate reforms to Employment Insurance.

But expectations are being kept very low and both parties have agreed not to talk publicly about the process.

Prime Minister Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff agreed to the six-person working group last month as the modest price for skipping a summer election.

No details on exactly when or where the panel will meet are being released.

The low-key process is contributing to a perception of the Liberals falling off the political radar.

Little has been seen or heard from Ignatieff since the Commons adjourned last month.

Political observers say he's suffering the fate of all Opposition leaders in summer.

It's a time of year when the most productive work is often the nuts and bolts of party organization and low-profile tours to make grass-roots connections.