The long arm extends even into the famous Rose Garden of the White House.

Lawrence L. Guzick found that out yesterday when he dropped 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to pick up a $25,000, award from President Carter. Guzick, a Navy engineer here with the Sea Systems Command, earned it. He worked up a plastic device (a combination filter and hole cover) that already has saved 875,00 barrels of oil (by somebody's count) or $10.5 million in ship operations.

The $25,000 he was supposed to get the top thank-you award Uncle Sam can give a civilian employee. Only five others have been handed out since the inventive recognition program began nearly three decades ago.

President Carter, himself an old Navy man and an engineer, wanted to give the award of Guzick personally. Hence the Rose Garden ceremony.

As perspiring VIPs, government guides, Navy brass and reporters stood by, the President came out, shook hands with Guzick, his wife and three children, then patted his pockets for the check. He didn't have it. "Who's got the check?" Carter asked. Special Assistant Jack Watson said he didn't, but would get it. He did. Mrs. Guzick, who brought her camera for the occasion, smiled.

At any rate, Carter grinned when he noted that the IRS had arrived first. The $25,000 check - after - texas had been reduced to an $18,131.31 check. Carter thanked Guzick for the $10.5 million he had saved the government through his invention, and the $7,000-plus he had "returned" to the government even before he got his award.

The President said the nation is indebted "to all the superlative civil servants," most of whom do not get special awards for the 'professionalism that is a great strength to a president." He said he hoped more employees would be honored for outstanding work, inventions and suggestions, and that maybe one of them would come up with a way to give somebody a $25,000 award that was worth $25,000.