Question: What does the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee of today have in common with some of the more effective commando-suicide battalions of World War II?

Answer: A very high turnover rate!

Service on the committee -- once the setter of postal and federal pay raises, controller of low postage rates and much postal patronage -- isn't what it used to be.

It is no longer the political launching pad for labor-oriented Democrats from big federal population centers. Nor does it offer the spoiler role for conservative Republicans out to spike growth and cost in the bureaucracy.

Added to its loss of clout is the growth of the flog-the-bureaucrat movement. It is acceptable, even desirable among both liberals and conservatives to knock government employes and the cost of government. Some members feel that association with the committee, even as a tough, tail-kicker, is politically dangerous.

All of the above accounts for at least part of the reason Demcrats William Lehman (Fla.), Stephen J. Solarz (N.Y.) and Cecil Heftel (Hawaii) left the committee for greener pastures in Congress. Republicans John Rousselot (Calif.) James M. Collins (Tex.) and Trent Lott (Miss.) also have taken other assignments. Other Democratic vacancies were created by the death last year of Rep. Ralph Metclfe (III.) and the Jonestown murder in December of Leo J. Ryan (N.Y.).

Three Democrats, all newly elected, have already been assigned. Four more will be picked toady or Thursday. The eventual lineup will be 16 Democrats and 9 Republicans. The Democratic leadership is having a hard time finding volunteers.

Chairman James Hanley (D-N.Y.) hoeps to revitalize the committee. He succeeds Robert N.C. Nix (D-Pa.) who failed to win reelection, partly because of his age and partly because (many feel) his Philadelphia constituents were not impressed with his chairmanship of that committee. Hanley is planning to beef up the committee's investigative arm, probing waste and corruption and hopefully giving it more work and more prestige inside and outside Congress.

Hanley's personal relationship with Alan K. Campbell, head of the Office of Personnel Management; also could make some differences in the committee's interests and relations with the executive branch. The OPM replaced the old Civil Service Commission. Syracuse is Hanley's hometown power base. Campbell was head of Syracuse University's Maxwell Graduate School. They go back a long time together.

Past chairmen of the committee and the CSC (now the OPM) have not been so close. It was either a Democrat vs. Republican relationship during the Nixon and Ford regimes, or more distant when John Macy headed the commission and also handled personnel matters for President Johnson.

The committee could recharge its batteries and become an interesting place to work, and a launching pad for members. Until it does, however, the Democratic leadership must resort to the draft to get a full complement for this session of Congress.

Census Bureau: It could be in line for some high-level lumps if Robert Garcia (D-N.Y.) gets what he wants: chairmanship of the Census and Population subcommittee. As subcommittees go, it ranks low in political sex appeal. But Garcia's big Hispanic constitutency would like to see some policy changes at the head-counting and statistics hureau.

In terms of seniority and service on the full Post Office-Civil Service Committee, Rep. Herbert Harris (D-Va.) is in line for the census subcommittee leadership. But there is much in-fighting on the Democratic side as leadership jobs in Congress are being doled out.

George E. Auman is the new president of the Federal Professional Association. He is retired from the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). Other officers are Edwin D. Becker and Norman H. Taylor, both of the National Institutes of Health; John McElhinney, Naval Research Laboratory, and NBS retiree Roy Stapleton.

Federal Executive Institute: The director's job (GS 18, $47,500) will be opening up next month at the top federal staff college in Charlottesville. Office of Prsonnel Management will require the new director to belong to the Senior Executive Service that goes into effect in July.

Assistant Editor: The excellent Defense Management Journal has a Grade 11 opening for someone with civil service status. Call Larry Wilson at 274-7558.

Position Classifier: Federal Communications needs a Grade 13 or 14 branch chief. It also has a GS 6 slot for a personnel clerk. Status required for both jobs. Call 275-7414.

Chief of Staffing: Andrews Air Force Base wants one at the GS 13 level. Call 981-5600.