A secret General Accounting Office report in the works will recommend that Congress consolidate its controls - now scattered among 20 different subcommittees - over the 66 different retirement programs run by government.

This split legislative responsibility has resulted in an amazing array of pension systems - with different costs, payouts and retirement ages - for the people covered, and taxpayers who indirectly finance their multi-billion dollar costs.

The programs cover virtually everyone in the nation, from nurseries to nursing homes. They range from the bedrock of the nation's retirement system, social security (now paying benefits to one American in every five), to the staff pension plans for and even little-known, single systems designed to cover the old-age needs of the president and the head of the GAO.

GAO is the agency Congreas uses as a financial watchdog over other federal government operations. When GAO barks a recommendation, even the highest federal officials tend to salute and obey or try to make it appear that way. When GAO deals with Congress, however, it is much more diplomatic. It will be especially so in this case where the issue is present and future retirement benefits for nearly everybody in the country.

The report is being kept under wraps until it will be hand-delivered time within the next 60 days.

Insiders say the report will suggest that the Senate and House revamp their present committee and subcombility for setting policy for the retirement systems to a sin0: for setting policy for the retirement systems to a single unit in each house of the Congress.

Congressional and GAO sources declined to comment on the report or its conclusions. But Rep. Gladys N. Spellman (D-Md.) is on record as favoring a single such committee, one that would have jurisdiction over the systems that now, because of diffused control, pay different benefits, charge different fees and set different retirement ages for people under the Spellman heads a House committee dealing with federal employe benefits, including retirement.

Other members of Congress, including Rep. Richard C. White (D-Tex.). Armed Services Chairman William Price (D-Ill.) and leaders of banking and appropriations units that have jurisdiction over some retirement systems have also spoken of the need for a less fragmented jurisdictional system to set policy and benefits for the retirement programs.

Federal and postal personnel will be anxious to see if the GAO report makes any statement concerning merger of their retirement system with social security.

Federal Executive Institute; The government's civilian version of Harvard, West Point and Annapolis, celebrates its 10th anniversary in October. Located in pleasant surroundings in Charlottesville, Va., the FEI has cranked out some of the bureaucracy's very best people. Many graduates of the institute will be returning for the first decade celebrations that will run from Oct. 1 to 6th.

Calling All Lawyers; Federal Bar Association will hold a special federal practice seminar as part of its convention that begins Sept. 12. Top legal and managerial talent from government will be on hand, talking about everything from tax return to disarmament and the problems of whistle-blowers. Call 638-0252 for information.