White House planners have given top priority to an item on their bureucracy-related list of things-to-do that would result in a new pay system for 600,000 federal clerks, secretaries and administrators.

The proposal - based on recommendations made during the Ford administration - would separate technical and clerical workers of the government from the national pay scales Uncle Sam now uses for whitecollar aides.Instead, pay and future increases would be linked to the going rate for the same jobs in private industry in the city or locality where the federal employees work and live.

The plan also nvisions us of a total compnsation" approach in figuring parity between federal and private salaies. That could result in smaller future government pay increases. Under that concept, the value of federal fringe benefits such as holiday, life and health insurance, sick leave and retirement would be measured against similar fringes in industry. Most studies show that government benefits - particularly in leave and holiday time and pensions are generally superior to those in private industry.

Under the salary changes being studied, government secretaries and other clerical aides who now get the same pay whether they work in high-cost ew York City or less expensive Jackson, Miss., would be put under a prevailing pay rate system. It would be similar to the method now used to set wages for 450,000 federal mechanics, trades workers and other blue-collar aides.

With some exceptions (for hard to hire aides), the government generally pays "workers the same salary for the same job no matter where they live or work. A Grade 5 secretary, for example, starts at $9,303 base salary whether she (or he) worked for the Federal Power Commission here or the Army in Anniston, Ala.

Under the area wage concept, federal workers in some big cities could except larger annual increases than their counterparts in smaller towns or rural areas where the job market is less competitive and living costs are lower. Congress would have to approve the area wage system and federal unions can be expected to fight it.

Past studies of the federal pay system have generally concluded that a single national pay rate for each grade and job in the 48 states (Alaska and Hawaii have differentials for employees) results in Uncle Sam overpaying some clerical workers in small towns and not being competitive in bigger cities.

The pay review, which will be part streamlined hiring-and-firing system for the government, and creation of an executive corps of top professionals who would sacrifice some tenure and job guarantees for going into a more mobile, risk-taking form of service.

Other items on the study - outlined here April 10 - include a new streamlined hiring-and-firing system for the government, and creation of an executive corps of top professionals who would sacrifice some tenure and job guarantees for going into a more mobile, risk-taking form of service.

Dwight Ink, a long-time top bureaucrat now at American University, has been put in charge of the joint CSCOMB group that will study various pay, hiring and placement streamlined methods.

The study may last as long as three years but CSC Chairman Alan Campbell said he hoped that the first recommendations would be fourthcoming within 60 to 90 days with action - either legislative, administrative or by White House order - to implement them as they are approved.