Officials in charge of the proposed federal merit pay and bonus system will huddle with industry experts this week to find out how such things work in the nonfederal world.

Uncle Sam has already learned one lesson in his drive to become more businesslike at the office. The 65 industry executives who will conduct the seminar are doing it free. They are not getting any payment, consultant fee, travel reimbursement or room and board for coming to Washington.

From the meetings today and Tuesday at the Twin Bridges Marriott, a federal merit and bonus pay system covering nearly 80,000 people will be developed.

Industry has a couple of reasons for helping out. First, of course, is public service. There is some prestige in Pittsburgh, Chicago and even New York to being "called" to Washington to "help out."

Item number two is also important for the industrialists. If they can help make sense (in the private industry definition) of the federal pay and bonus system, it may help their own firms. Many business leaders contend that government pay is way out of line now, and that federal salary and fringe benefit scales are used by employes and unions to win bigger bucks.

The Marriott sessions between government and industry are being sponsored by the Civil Service Commission. CSC Chairman Alan Campbell and Vice Chairman Jule Sugarman also will brief bureaucrats and businessmen on implementation of the new reforms.

Former Navy secretary Graham. Claytor Jr., now with Southern Railway Co., will contrast his experiences in private industry with those as a top political appointee and help advise former colleagues how to run the government as efficiently as a railroad.

Alfred E. Kahn, President Carter's chief inflation fighter, also will talk to the group on Tuesday. He's expected to make another pitch for the president's wage-price restraint program and perhaps urge restraint when the government -- sometime late next year -- starts giving out the first five-figure bonuses.

William Paz has been sworn in as deputy assistant secretary of the Navy. The transplanted Hawaiian had been chief of the Office of Civilian Manpower Management. He will have many of the same duties, but this definitely is a promotion.

Uncharitable Arm-Twisting: A rap on the head for the Interior Department official (from the Office of the Solicitor, yet) who sent out this memo to his staff:

"Will each employe who has not contributed towards the Combined Federal Campaign please submit to me in writing why he/or she has not done so?"

Customs Service staffers also report some ham-handedness from top officials to give to the CFC. One big boss called office chiefs under his command, asking for specifics about who had not coughed up, and why. He said it had resulted in a "discrepancy" in his campaign reports.

Fortunately, that sort of armtwisting is the exception to the rule. Top CFC managers don't condone that sort of thing. They do a first-rate job of raising millions of dollars each year from local federal and military personnel for local charity. Too bad a few dumb memos spoil it for so many.

Christmas Bureau: HEW's Russ Roberts has taken his Santa suit out of mothballs for his 11th season of helping the needy. Roberts and his HEW elves collect money, food and clothing for families here. Other government workers are invited to give, or help out. Call Roberts at 472-7453.

Cost-of-Living Raise: Postal employes will get one of at least $93.60 next May. The boost will be greater if living costs climb between now and then. The contract between the half million union workers and the U.S. Postal Service calls for regular pay raises and COL boosts and also gives lifetime job guarantees to employes.