Most of the government's 20,000 executives and would-be executives are watching the Department of Energy these days for a preview of what may be down the road for them.

DOE (Whose passive initials Bolie the virile, pipe-between-the-teeth, crisis in-the-air atmosphere of the government's newest department) has set up a tough-sounding reward-punishment system for its top management corps which, incidentally, is one of the largest in government.

The new energy Executive Service disbelived by many to be the forerunner (if it works) for a broader executive management service, to be called the Executive Management Service, that would be set up government-wide.

New members of DOE's EES (mostly brought over from agencies DOE absorbed) have been briefed on their new work-life status. Not all of them are crazy about the charges that will be spelled out next week in a seven-page management directive telling the officials who they are, what they are not, and how things are to be.

Job-security won't be high on the list of pluses for the 511 members of the EES. Nor will easily recognizable badges of status. A thumbnail sketch of the new EES shows it has:

No grades. There will not be any Grades 16, 17 or 18 personnel in the EES. Employees will be hired by the secretary for his designee) and pay will be set for the job.

Pay will range between $42,423 and $47,500).

Individuals will be appointed to the EES rather than to positions. They can be moved in and out of jobs at the pleasure of the boss.

EES members serve at the pleasure of top management. Executives who have career civil service status who don't measure up can and will be put back to Grade 15 jobs. Even individuals who come into the EES from higher grade jobs can be demoted to Grade 15 if they don't measure up.

New people (individuals from outside government) who don't have career federal status will not be given it. If they don't measure up they will be fired.

Executives will serve where needed for as long as needed. This is supposed to happen in otheragencies, but geographic transfers (except for promotion) are relatively rare except in agencies like Treasury and Agriculture. Individuals in the EES who refuse transfers or assignments can be bounced back to GS 15, or fired depending on their status or lack of it.

DOE includes personnel from Energy Research and Development Administration and chunks of Federal Power Commission, Interior, Commerce, Interstate Commerce Commission and Navy. The ERDA people had something like the tough new executive servicecorps, but for the others EES is new. There are 511 slots authorised for the corps, and about 428 are now filled. In addition, DOE will have another 178 supergrade (GS 16, 17 and 18) jobs, mostly to work in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Energy Department creators insisted on the tough management authority, which Congress granted without much opposition. It it succeeds it will certainly make it easier for Carter administration aides to push through a similar tough new management system for other federal agencies.

What A Novel Idea: The Agriculture Department said yesterday it will streamline operations, increase effiency and cut its number of agencies in half without eliminating a single job. In what must be the 57,000th government reorganization plan of this decade.Agriculture brass say the new mergers and shakeups will follow the President's promise to make government more responsive while protecting job rights of civil servants. Example: The Offices of Congressional Affairs, Communications and Intergovernment Affairs will be lumped into the Office of Governmental and Public Affairs - thereby "eliminating" two agencies.

Across town, the General Services Administration launched a 6-month study that it says will lead to a major reorganization. Meantime, HEW continues to reorganize ... Commerce is reorganizing ... the Pentagon is retrenching.