First the good news! The CFC is off and running, with federal agencies being told to set their own goals (not quotas) for workers contributions. In most cases the soft-sell seems to be working well enough, Geological Survey, for instance, met and passed its goal only days after the fund drive started. Bureau of Reclamation ran neck-and-neck with it, under the tender loving care of Interior CFC coordinator Jane Wallace.

Most people consider the CFC a worthy undertaking and a painless way to help out the less fortunate in this area. Government workers and military personnel have always been generous, and this year they are being urged to give more than ever before - but voluntarily. This brings us to the bad news:

CFC officials have put the skids to an Agriculture Department directive (out of the Farmers Home Administration), which can be most charitably described as "heavy-handed."

It seems to FHA key fund raisers were told to go out and push, push, push by a boss who likes the personal touch. "Every employee is requested to fill out a pledge card," the FHA official said. "Those who do not fill out a pledge card will have their names sent to may office and I will discuss with them personally their reasons for not doing so." Later on, he reminded fund raisers that anyone not kicking in by Oct. 27 would have to tell him why.

If Agriculture makes its goal after that it will probably be in spite of the threatening memo, rather than because of it. Charity, sir, begins at home . . .