The FMC is planning a major conference Feb. 6, dealing with everything from the health of the U.S. pension program to zero-based budgeting. Top officials who will talk at the session include Commerce's Elsa A. Porter, Comer S. Coppie of the D.C. Budget Office; J. P. Boldue, Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc., Edwin C. Hustead, chief actuary of the Civil Service Commission, and Susuma Uyeda and David A. Winfield, both from the Office of Management and Budget. Price is $45, which federal agencies can pay for attendees. Call Edward Murphy at 632-5600 for details. The meeting will be at the Sheraton Park Hotel.

Consultants? Nobody in or out of government knows how many outside experts and consultants Uncle Sam uses, how long they work or what they do, or even what a consultant is. That is the conclusion of a relatively new (Nov. 29) General Accounting Office probe into the ultra-confused consultant scene in government.

GAO says that agencies ought to have a central clearing house with data on consultants, and that somebody in government ought to define exactly what is consultant. Some of them, obviously, do fine work and do it quickly and cheaply.

Others ride the government gravy train taking make-work contracts doled out by friends in high positions in government. As long as nobody in government knows anything about the use of consultants, the opportunities for abuse will remain.