Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) DESCRIPTION: Washington stock corporation, formerly a government agency, that supports a secondary market for home mortgages. FNMA is the nation's largest single owner of conventional and government-insured mortgages, bought from lending institutions with funds attracted through sales of debentures and short-term notes; thus, it recycles funds back into the housing market (NYSE, M,P, Phila). 1981 FEE INCOME: $112.6 million. LOSS ON MORTGAGE PORTFOLIO: $59.8 million. FOUNDED: 1938 as a government agency and transformed into a private corporation in 1968 with 10 directors elected by stockholders and five appointed by the president. TOP EXECUTIVE: David O. Maxwell, chairman.

The corporation had its first unprofitable year in 1981. From a modest profit of $14 million the previous year, it slipped to a loss of $190.4 million. The loss was caused by the mismatch in Fannie Mae's loan portfolio; at one time last fall the company was paying nearly two percentage points more to borrow money than it was taking in. However, its retained earnings of $1.2 billion are sufficient to keep it from running out of cash for at least six more years if current interest rates continue.

Under its new chairman, who took over in May, Fannie Mae took measures that resulted in smaller losses in the fourth quarter and in the first quarter of 1982. These included a mortgage-backed securities program and purchases of adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). It also increased its fees and decreased its shareholder dividends. Notwithstanding, 1982 is not expected to see a return to profitability.

Fannie Mae made commitments to purchase more than $1 billion in ARMs and to issue and guarantee $3.3 billion in conventional mortgage-backed securities. For the first time pensions funds bought a significant portion.

The corporation expects these securities to become a major source of funds for conventional mortgages. In addition, Fannie Mae plans to borrow up to $15 billion in capital markets to roll over $17.5 billion in maturing debentures and short-term debt as well as finance new mortgage acquisitions. It may face increased competition in capital markets in the future from the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac), which is trying to break its ties to the federal government and become a private corporation.

U.S. Postal Service DESCRIPTION: Government corporation that is a successor to the old Post Office Department and is the principal delivery agency for mail in the United States. U.S. MAIL APPROPRIATIONS: $1.2 billion. MAIL VOLUME: 110.1 billion pieces. FOUNDED: 1971, replacing a federal department that began in 1692. TOP EXECUTIVES: William F. Bolger, postmaster general; C. Neil Benson, deputy postmaster general.

The U.S. Postal Service has had a busy year, starting with drawn-out conflicts over rate increases resulting with a rise in the price of first class postage from 18 cents to 20 cents. It was the first year in history with two jumps in mail rates. On March 22 they increased the cost of first class postage from 15 cents to 18 cents and on Nov. 1, it rose again to 20 cents.

As the postmaster said it, the year "was filled with action, controversy and at times, disappointment."

The Postal Service successfully negotiated new three-year contracts with three of four major unions and several smaller bargaining units and began its electronic mail system despite last-minute attempts by the Justice Department to block it.

Attempts to adopt an expanded ZIP code were impeded by Congress, which in amendments to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 required the postal officials to put off the nine-digit ZIP code until Oct. 1, 1983.

Financial projections made at the beginning of the year with the expectation of a 20-cent first class stamp had predicted the postal service would lose $2.9 million last year. But the postal service ended the year with a $587.7 million loss instead. Mail volume was at an all time high of 110.1 billion pieces.

However, postal officials said the outlook for 1982 is brighter. The new higher postage rates should provide sufficient revenue for the Postal Service and officials hope the electronic mail system will help handle added mail volume.

Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae) DESCRIPTION: Stockholder-owned corporation granted broad statutory authority by Congress to provide national secondary market for student loans made by financial and educational institutions, state agencies and other organizations under the federally sponsored Guaranteed Student Loan Program. Sallie Mae purchases student loans directly and lends money against student loans offered as collateral. The corporation obtains funds primarily through the issuance of debt obligations guaranteed by the secretary of Education. 1981 TOTAL INTEREST INCOME ON LOANS, NET: $50.2 million. LOANS: $4.8 billion. NOTES PAYABLE: $5 billion. FOUNDED: Chartered by Congress in 1972. TOP EXECUTIVES: Edward A. McCabe, chairman; Edward A. Fox, president and chief executive.

Sallie Mae discontinued borrowing from the Federal Financing Bank last spring, entering the capital markets to meet its new funding needs. Sallie Mae successfully sold discount notes and floating-rate notes in the debt markets, enabling the association to raise funds on a cost-effective basis. Sallie Mae expects to sell up to $2 billion in floating-rate notes during 1982 to finance the continued growth of its floating rate, student loan assets.

The association expects to continue to provide assistance in postsecondary educational financing through the liquidity and funding programs it offers to FSLP lenders. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 gave Sallie Mae several additional authorities that have yet to be implemented: dealing in student loan revenue bonds issued by state and local government for funding their direct student lending activities or purchases of student loans from commerical lenders; insuring guaranteed student loans made by Sallie Mae, including consolidation loans; dealing in noninsured student loans; and undertaking other activities deemed necessary by the board to support the credit needs of students generally.

National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak) DESCRIPTION: Government-subsidized corporation based in Washington that operates most American intercity passenger trains, serving 525 communities in 44 states with 24,000 miles of track. RIDERSHIP (Fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 1981): 20.6 million passengers. FOUNDED: 1971, as successor to most private rail passenger operations in service at that time. TOP EXECUTIVES: Alan S. Boyd, chairman and president.

Although the number of Amtrak's passengers was off slightly in the last fiscal year, the number of miles traveled was up 4 percent. Total revenues increased 16 percent to $506.3 million; of that amount, passenger transportation revenues totaled $430.4 million, up 15.7 percent. Amtrak had a $179.1 million net loss for FY 1981. Amtrak lists its assets at $2.6 billion, up from $2 billion. Amtrak has 18,500 employes, 2,000 in the Washington area.

As in the past, the administration and Amtrak differ about the amount of federal subsidy that should be provided to run the national rail passenger network. The administration told Congress Amtrak should get a total of $600 million in fiscal 1983; Amtrak asked for $788 million. Amtrak President Alan S. Boyd told Congress that the difference came in two areas; the administration assumed cost savings Amtrak didn't assume because they require changes in the law, and Amtrak asked for a significantly larger amount for capital expenditures than the administration, he said. However, their estimates of projected total costs and revenues were remarkably close. The administration's budget assumed a funded cost of $1.4 billion and revenues of $725 million; Amtrak also assumed a funded cost of $1.4 billion but lower revenues--$690 million.

Federal subsidies totaling $735 million were earmarked for Amtrak in the current fiscal year.