Getting a District of Columbia budget through all the required layers of approval is a long, slow process. That is why, weeks before fiscal 1978 begins on Oct. 1, the process is beginning all over again on fiscal 1979, which begins more than a year from now.

Congress will be putting the finishing touches on the fiscal 1978 budget within the next few weeks. This is a calendar of how it got to where it is now, to give you some idea of where the fiscal 1979 budget, unveiled this week, must go:

Sept. 16, 1976 - Mayor Walter E. Washington presented his fiscal 1978 budget.

Sept. 20, 1976 - The City Council began hearings.

Oct. 29, 1976 - The mayor submitted to the council an amendment to the budget.

Nov. 5, 1976 - The council sent its version of the budget back to the mayor.

Dec. 7, 1976 - Final council action was taken on the budget and amendment.

Jan. 1, 1977 - The council amended the budget.

March 14, 1977 - The budget was submitted to President Carter.

March 31, 1977 - The President transmitted the budget to Congress.

April 19, 1977 - The House District Appropriations subcommittee began hearings.

May 3, 1977 - The Senate District Appropriations subcommittee began hearings.

Sept. 8, 1977 - The House Appropriations Committee reported the fiscal 1978 appropriations bill for final action by the whole House of Representatives.

The Senate committee has not yet completed actions on the appropriations measure.

Both houses of Congress have also have been acting on a supplemental request for the current fiscal year, fiscal 1977, at the same time they have been considering fiscal 1978's proposed budget.

Happy new year.