The Central Intelligence Agency will let more than 800 workers go over the next two years. Most of the workers are senior grads, Washington-based employees. The action will include early retirement incentives for some and dismissals for others.

Within the next few weeks, CIA is expected to begin offering "optional" mandatory retirement to workers with at least 2 years service, or those age 50 with 20 or more years of federal, CIA and/or military service.

Most of the employees hit by the cutback will be in the Operations Directorate. In handles clandestine activities and built up dramatically during the Vietnam war. A recent in-house study concluded that the directorate is over staffed, and top-heavy with senior grade workers.

Insiders say that CIA cannot make the personnel reductions through normal attrition. They expect the intelligence agency will request - and get permission from the Civil Service Commission - permission to offer the early-out retirement for a limited time.

Although the CIA has its own personnel system, the majority of workers are covered by the regular federal civil service retirement system. By Law, employees can volunteer to be retired early, on immediate pensions, if they meet certain age and/or service requirements.

CIA will not only be pushing senior level workers to retire early, but will also make up a list of individuals with "low records of performance." Most of them will be forced to quit, some by next March. The entire exercise is expected to take 26 months, and primmarly hit middle and top management workers in Grades 14 and above.