Chronicling the proliferation of the federal government is the forte of UPI's Donald Lambro. His latest depressing addition to the file: while the government counts 2.9 million civilian employes, it can be argued that the number is actually twice that. The reason is the Civil Service Commission doesn't include millions of workers who owe their jobs to government contracts and grants

At his annual "So You Want to Write a Lead" contest, States News Service's Mick Rood awarded first place to Michael Conlan of Newhouse News Service for this fictional entry: "Former senator William Scott said yesterday he had lied when he denied being the dumbest man in Congress... "In Baltimore Maria Shriver snags job at WJZ-TV, working as associate producer for Evening Magazine. She's the daughter of R. Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

The office mood is said to be grim around Clay Felker's Esquire magazine. The biweekly format didn't make anyone rich, and the staff is in an uproar about Judy Klemesrud's article on women as sex objects with accompanying cheesecake cover... Some cheesecake, however, sells: After years of complaining that he gets no repect in his hometown, Washington's beauty pageant mogul Sid Sussman finds local TV wants to broadcast his Miss Virginia Pageant (in April from Busch Gardens) and Miss Maryland Pageant (in March from Ocean City).