Agency for International Development will eliminate one out of every six of its Washington jobs over the next three months because of internal reorganization and budget cuts from Congress.

The cutbacks, outlined here Nov. 7, will be made by shifting many AID personnel now in Washington to Africa, Asia and Latin America, where AID is undergoing a moderate buildup. AID will probably have to fire some workers here and it has already asked the Civil Service Commission for permission to offer early retirement to older, long service employees.

AID will keep its hiring freeze on so that the maximum number of job cuts can be made through attrition, officials say. Layoffs, the concede, are almost a sure thing.

Originally, this column reported that AID was thinking of making between 450 and 550 Washington job cuts. But in an announcement Monday to AID staffers, Administrator John Gilligan said the reduction by March 31 will be 399 positions, with an increase overseas of 140 jobs. AID now has 2,399 employees in Washington and 1,355 U.S. citizen employees abroad.

The AID cuts result from a reorganization and from a 25 per cent cut in Washington operations funds ordered by Congress.

Earlier, AID officials said they hoped to make the cutbacks without layoffs which in government are known as RIFS. After looking at the size of the cutbacks, the time frame and retirement projections officials believe that RIFs will be necessary. It will be two to three weeks before workers start getting notices.

Officials say it is impossible to estimate how many AID workers who aren't affected directly by the RIF will be downgraded or transferred as other senior workers "bump" colleagues with less federal service time.

AID reached its employment peak during the Vietnam war when about 60 per cent of its 17,000-member staff (U.S. and foreign nationals) was assigned to southeast Asia. Since then AID has cut back to about 6,000 workers. Its mission has shifted, both by presidential directive and congressional orders.

"We've gone from building superhighways to the farm-to-market road concept," an AID official said yesterday, and from major capital investment programs to locally oriented agricultural and self-help functions.

The shift in emphasis means that many AID workers whose specialized skills were in great demand in the 1960s are no longer valuable to the agency.

Hardest hit in the cutbacks will be the administrative support areas in AID, including management services, personnel and the office of the auditor general.

AID figures that it costs a minimum of $100,000 per employee per post to sustain a worker in the field. The emphasis on a larger overseas staff, coupled with budget cuts, is the reason AID will make the major job cuts here.