The 200,000-plus federal managers and supervisors heading for a new merit pay system will get a preview of the brave new world in a couple of weeks when the Small Business Administration implements the new salary reward/punish system for 700 of its Grade 13, 14 and 15 people. What SBA does, and how it does it, will be a good indicator of how the merit pay system will work in your agency when it begins in the fall of 1981.

Merit pay is part of the President's civil service reform. Under it, more than 200,000 GS 13 through 15 people, identified as either supervisors or "management officials," will lose regular longevity pay increases, and be taken off the automatic catch-up-with-industry raises other feds get each October.

Under merit pay, managers and supervisors are guaranteed only half the annual "comparability" raise other employes automatically get. This year that boost has been set at 9.1 percent.

GS 13 through 15 people who get top marks from their bosses can and will get bigger percentage raises than their subordinates and many of their peers. Some who get passing grades for prformance will be allowed the full comparability raise. Those who get poor marks will get only half the regular October raise or, in some cases, no raise at all. The system is brand new to government, and the upcoming SBA test will be the first time it has ever been tried on real, flesh-and-blood bureaucrats.

As of now, the 700 merit pay people in SBA are guaranteed only half the comparability raise, or half the regular 9.1 percent raise. Within the next few weeks, SBA will begin rating those merit pay people on their performance since October 1979. Those who get "exceptional" ratings will get raises larger than the 9.1 percent. So will people who get "excellent" ratings. Those who get "good-to-very-good" ratings will probably get the 9.1 percent raise. Those who get lower marks will get smaller increases, down to half the regular 9.1 percent raise. Nobody, this year, will be denied a pay raise, but poor performers will lose pay raises in the future.

Meantime, SBA has prepared special one-shot bonus checks for 124 of its mid-level managers. Those payments are also authorized by the Civil Services Reform Act, But few agencies have had time to give them yet.

The SBA awards are worth a total of $124,000. They will be given out in special ceremonies next week. Depending on their grades and ratings, winners will get from $1,000 to $2,400. These awards are separate from the merit pay system, and the about-to-be-presented checks are based on top performance over the past six months. The merit pay raises will be determined in mid-October (with pay raises retroactive to Oct. 5) and will be based on performance from October 1979 to October 1980. Bonus winners from this area are:

Marvin P. Shelton, Roland E. Berg, Fred Williams, David K. Voight, Gerald L. Feigen, Arnold J. Feldman, George F. B. Smith, James A Davit, Bruce G. Whiting, Richard T. Bentley Jr, John R. Cox, Edward N. Odell and Andrew F. Westwood.

Also, Richard L. Osbourn, Robert Dietsch, Harold E. Knight, Jr, John E. Lagos, Harry S. Carver, Dorothy L. Knox, Fred L. Burkert, John R. Bjork, Ted S. Carothers, Allen I. Slaman, Johnnie L. Albertson, Lawrence R. Rosenbaum, Joseph Tunstall, Ronald S. White, Harriett E. Warfield, Sol Schwartzman and Charles G. Parry.