The 12,000 midlevel federal officials who will be shifted to a merit pay system next month may get slightly higher minimum guaranteed raises than they had anticipated. Office of Personnel Management is considering a change that would guarantee the Grade 13, 14 and 15 personnel tapped for merit pay at least 60 percent of the 9.1 percent due other white collar civil servants.

Originally, OPM had intended to guarantee the supervisor-managers only 50 percent of the regular October adjustment. But a high-level staff proposal in the works would give the merit pay people at least 60 percent of that figure.

Under merit pay more than 200,000 GS 13 through 15 U.S. workers will lose the right to longevity pay raises, and -- no later than next fall -- be put in merit pay pools where they are no longer guaranteed full October pay adjustments. About 10 agencies, ranging from the giant Department of Health and Human Services (formerly HEW) to the tiny U.S. Metric Board, will convert to merit pay next month.

Merit pay people who get good marks from their bosses can get raises that are double the regular October pay raise adjustment. Those who get fair to middling ratings may get the full 9.1 percent, or a lesser amount. If OPM goes with the 60 percent formula, all people under merit pay will be guaranteed at least that much of the October raise -- unless they get very bad marks.

Agencies shifting to merit pay next month include HHS (with 9,000 in the system), Civil Aeronautics Board, Civil Rights Commission, Farm Credit Administration, OPM, Selective Service, Small Business Administration, Metric Board and Environmental Protection Agency.