Washington women bureaucrats and policy makers are rapidly plugging into a power source men have used since the beginning here, the who-do-you-know pipeline.
The "Old Boy Network" that runs the Capital, irrespective of political creed, has a new rival. Insiders with the proper credentials call themselves the "Old Girl Network," but it is safer, and more correct, to use the official title which is WWN - Washington Women's Network.
At least once a month WN members - most of them already in power-house jobs - meet to talk about mutual problems at work, and also to help other women make all-important connections in government. Capitol Hill and in industry. Object is to get more women in key jobs.
The WN got rolling in December 1977 when a few women political appointees of the Carter administration decided they needed an unstructured forum to get to know each other, as well as learn which buttons to push to get results. It grews, mostly by word of mouth, until demand for services forced it this March to get secretarial help. That is being provided by the National Women's Education Fund. It is a Washington-based group whose prime interest is providing training to women in local government. The telephone number is 462-8606.
"This is a informal organization, intentionally so," a WWN leader said. "The level of power for women in Washington is higher than anywhere else, but on a Washington scale women still don't have very much power."
The name of the game, she said, is to give them a forum of get to know each other, exchange ideas and keep posted when major job openings are coming up and, where possible, help other women get those jobs.
The steering committee of the WWN reads like a who's who of Washington's women power elite. It includes Pat Bailey of Justice; Barbara Blum deputy administration of the Environmental Protection Agency; Barbara Dixon of Sen. Bayh's (D-Ind.) top staff; Agency for International Development's Arvon Fraser; Arabella Martinez and Marjorie Fine Knowles, top officials at HEW; Julia Lear of the Federation of Professional Women's Organizations; Judy Lichtman, Women's Legal Defense Fund; presidential counselors Margaret McKenna and Sarah Weddington; Irene Tisker, formerly with ACTION; Commerce's assistant secretary Elsa Porter; HUD assistant secretary Douna Shalala; Betsy Wright, National Women's Education Fund; Jane McMichael, director of the National Women's Political Caucus and Labor's Alexis Herman.
The WWN (with seed money from the Ford Foundation) plans to publish a directory listing top women in government, trade associations, industry and foundations in Washington. It is planning a major dinner get-together Oct. 24 at the Capital Hilton.
President Carter's request to limit U.S. blue collar workers to a 5.5 percent pay raise - and give top officials no raise at all - was approved yesterday by the House.
The pay raise limit approved by the House for the fiscal year that began on Sunday covered only federal blue collar workers because other lower echelon federal workers already are limited to a 5.5 percent raise.
The 5.5 percent limit on raises was approved by the House 284-111 over objections by congressman representing large numbers of federal employes. These lawmakers said it was unfair to single out government workers for lower raises.
Carter's request gives no pay raise to federal officials already getting $47.500 or more a year. House approval of the House-Senate compromise bill sent it to the Senate. Approval there would send it to Carter for enactment into law.
Federal Job Cutback: The number of government employes in full-time jobs could shrink by as much as 40,000 by this time next year. If so, the credit (or blame) will go to Rep. James Leach, an Iowa Republican whose district has about the same number of people as metro Washington has bureaucrats.
Leach managed to attach a job-cutting amendment to the civil service reform bill.It originally targeted a cutback of more than 100,000 jobs but the actual impact will be less, according to people who keep government employment figures.
The cuts will be taken into account when President Carter presents his new budget, and also could force Congress to go slow in adding new jobs to pet programs. Biggest losers are expected to be Defense, Agriculture, Interior and some of the health-delivery service agencies.