It will be June or July before five test agencies begin to expand part-time job opportunities in response to a White House edict to hire more housewives, students and others who want to work permanently for the government, but cannot put in a regular 40-hour week.
When President Carter announced the expanded program last September, federal agencies here and around the country were flooded with inquiries and applications. Although Uncle Sam now has approximately 200,000 part-time workers, only about 40,000 have permanent jobs that entitle them to regular tours of duty and such fringe benefits as leave and insurance.
The hangup has been in getting authorization (which has since come through) for five major and minor federal agencies to change their systems to count work hours, rather than bodies. That has been done, and now agency computers are being geared up to handle the new-hours accounting system.
Budget examiners from the Office of Management and Budget are working with agencies now to assign hourly ceilings. That will determine the number of part-timers that can be hired.
The five test agencies are the Veterans Administration, General Services Administration, Federal Trade Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and the Export-Import Bank. VA, the third largest agency in government, already has about half the total number of part-timers employed by the federal establishment.
Most of the part-time jobs in government are clerical. Despite the president's announcement that he wants more professional job slots set aside for part-timers, insiders believe most of the new vacancies will be for secretaries, stenographers, typists and office-support personnel.
Federal agencies who are outside the five-agency test also are increasing the number of part-time openings, although growth is slow because part-timers continue to count as full-timers under their ceilings.
The Civil Service Commission has asked agencies to let it know of part-time jobs around the country, and CSC has set up a special section of its Job Information Center (1900 E St. NW) that lists local part-time job openings.
Federal officials don't anticipate any significant hiring until midsummer.They say, however, that persons interested in permanent part-time work can go ahead and apply, either for jobs already available through the JIC, or directly to one of the five agencies that will be running the test.
The House, meantime, is pushing legislation that would require federal agencies to set aside up to 10 per cent of their jobs -- somewhere between 200,000 and 240,000 would be created or restructured -- for permanent part-timers. If that becomes law, all agencies must shift over to the new accounting system that measures hours worked rather than individual employes.
So, the word is go ahead and apply if you are interested in a part-time job with Uncle Sam, but don't count on being hired until midsummer.