The chairman-designate of the ailing Senate Post Office-Civil Service Committee will offer a compromise plan today to save the unique government oversight unit from being chopped up and recycled.

Sen. Quentin Burdick (D-N. Dak.), who will head the committee unless the Senate abolishes it, hopes to immunize it from consolidation by making it a "minor" committee. That would preserve its status and power, and its nine-member format but take it out of the category of the "major" committees that Senate reformers are trying to reduce in number by combining groups.

To give his plan some punch, Burdick hopes to whip up a coalition of save-the-committee people from the ranks of those who (1) pay taxes to support the government, (2) get or send mail, and (3) do both these things and also work for the government. He has until Monday when the Senate begins voting on proposals that already have cleared the Rules Committee that would abolish the PO-CS unit along with several other committees.

Burdick will promise the Senate his committee will make "major" legislative proposals this year to improve the Postal Service and keep a closer eye on the 2.6 million government workers. In recent years the Senate group has done relatively little because Chairman Gale McGee (D-Wyo.), who was defeated last November, was more interested in international affairs and problems than the sometimes dull - but expensive and important - problems of the bureaucracy.

Civilian employees of the government have a vested interest in keeping the committee alive, especially under Burdick. Congressional committees tend to become guardians or advocates of the governmental activities they oversee and control, and the PO-CS units in both the Senate and House have consistently fought for improved working conditions and benefits for government workers. Burdick and needs of goverment workers, which is another reason why AFL-CIO federal and postal unions are backing the drive to "save" the committee.