The General Accounting Office says the government cannot garnishee the pay or pensions of federal or military personnel to satisfy community property settlements in divorce cases.

That decisions (B-191592) does not affect the garnishment of government checks in compliance with court orders for payment of alimony or child support. Former spouses of government and military personnel now may have the government garnishee part of their ex-husband or ex-wife's federal check if the court determines that alimony and child support have not been paid.

But the government cannot, GAO says, garnished wages or pensions of employes, military personnel or retirees based on community property settlements, even if ordered by a court. They may be collected in other ways but GAO decision means that the government will not collect them.

The case prompting the ruling involved the ex-wife of a retired Air Force major. She obtained a court order giving her half his retired military pay as part of a community property settlement. When he fought it, she asked the Air Force to garnishee his pension check, and give her 30 percent of it as long as her ex-husband lived. Air Force was prepared to comply, but asked the GAO for a ruling first.

GAO based its decision on the 1975 law that permitted, for the first time, garnishment of federal pay or pensions for any purpose. That law (PL93-647) said that wages and pension could be garnished for alimony or child support if ordered by a court following the refusal of the supporting parent or spouse to pay.

That law, GAO says, covers all kinds of things including even attorney's fees. But it does not, GAO said, include community property. The language of the law reads:

. . . Such term does not include any payment or transfer of property or its value by an individual to his spouse or former spouse in compliance with any community property settlement equitable distribution of property, or other division of property between spouses or former spouses."

Disabled Hiring: Federal agencies have until the end of the month to complete plans showing what they intend to do beginning July 1 to hire more handicapped persons and disabled Vietnam veterans.

Civil Service Commission is also requiring agencies to submit data showing the number of handicapped and disabled veterans they have on the job now, and how many have been hired in the last 12 months.

Upward Mobility: The Commerce Department "graduated" yesterday 42 trainees with the promise of better paying scientific and administrative jobs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Included in the class are two trainees, one of whom is destined to become the first black female oceanographer in government while the other is to become the first black marine fisheries enforcement agent.

Jobs: Food and Drug needs a Grade 3 secretary-steno in Silver Spring and a cleark (DMT) GS 4 or 5 downtown. Call 427-8166.

Position Classifier: American Federation of Government Employees is looking for a GS 11 or 12 position classifier. Call RE 7-8700 ext. 277.

Attorneys: The Postal Rate Commission has two trial lawyer vacancies, at the GS 11-12 and GS 13-14 level. Call 284-3880.

Postal Life Magazine's Jeanne K. O'Neill and Patrick McCabe took top writing and photo honors recently at the Gold Quill Awards in Toronto. O'Neill is assistant editor of the employe magazine. McCabe is a staff photographer. The prestigious journalism awards for government and private journals - is sponsored by the International Association of Business Communicators.