Six years ago, Judy German had one of those ideas that was so good, she was amazed that no one had thought of it before.

"I was an employment manager for a firm under federal contract," she recalls. "We had to lay off about 100 people, and I was to help them get jobs.

"Most had advanced degrees and lots of experience with the government, which seemed the logical place to find them employment. The biggest stumbling block in finding my way through the federal employment process was trying to uncover where the jobs were.

"People seemed to rely on the grapevine or word of mouth. But I kept thinking there had to be an easier way."

The solution, she decided, would be a list of all current vacancies.So German quit her job, took a part-time consulting position, and began compiling such a list.

"I went from office to office, bulletin board to bulletin board, copying down vacancy announcements. The first newsletter, on May 1, 1974, had 100 jobs."

German's Federal Research Service now relies on contacts, computers, telephone calls and canvasers to cull from the 1,879 separate federal hiring offices a 60-page roster of more than 3,000 listings. The bimonthly publication also includes articles on federal hiring and announcements of seminars and publications by federal career specialist David Waelde.