Health, Education and Welfare will pioneer a management crackdown to make it tougher for workers to get automatic within-grade raises, and equally tough for new workers to survive their initial probation period. The action will undoubtedly spread to other federal offices.

Currently 99 percent of all U.S. workers get a within-grade pay raise (worth about 3 percent) each time they come due for them. For employes in the 10-step pay system, raises come annually, every two or three years as they move up in their grade.

Hale Champion, HEW's undersecretary for administration, says the 99 percent success rate in securing raises is "unbelievable, not to say incredible."

Champion finds it hard to believe that managers in any large outfit are doing their jobs if they routinely give pay raises to 99 of every 100 employes. Champion says he doesn't know what is the proper ration, but he suspects that tighter controls would deny 20 percent of workers raises.

He also has launched a program-quarterly reports required-for managers to monitor how many probationary employes are let go for failing to measure up. The same 99 percent "pass" figure also applies to beginners who make it to career federal status.

Champion also believes managers have been too stingy in giving cash awards and quality step pay raises to outstanding employes. Only 4 percent a year now get them, and under a proper carrot-and-stick approach, Champion believes more should be rewarded, just as more should be denied routine raises.

With nearly 40,000 employes here, HEW is the largest executive branch agency in the metro area. It is so big-locally and nationally-that other agencies sneeze, in the bureaucratic sense, when HEW gets a cold.

If the HEW reward-punish program catches on, other departments will begin similar crackdowns to ensure that the regular raises go out because the boss wants them to, not because he or she is too busy or afraid, to deny them.