Despite the tight federal job market, the RIFs (reductions-in-force) being planned for many agencies, the government is hunting for 1,900 good men (and women) to take $50,000-a-year-plus openings managing special programs in law, science, medicine and administration.

The Senior Executive Service, created by the Carter administration to provide a top management team of career and political executives that is more "responsive" to the president and his appointees, has been fleshing out since the Republican administration took office.

As of March the SES, which has an authorized strength of 8,600 jobs (8,360 actually allocated to agencies), had just over 6,200 career executives, and a little more than 300 noncareer (political) appointees. Although set up to provide a salary spread and bonuses that would reward the best people, most SES members -- because of congressional pay freezes -- make the same $50,112.50 salary as do thousands of their subordinates who are covered by more protective layers of civil service job protection undercoating.

Career jobs are supposed to be filled via career methods, although the Reagan people, as did the Carter folks before them, have some influence as to who is considered career, and who is considered the best career person for the job. Political appointees, of course, serve at the pleasure of the agency head.

Under the SES rules set up by the Democrats (with a lot of help from Republicans who saw its merits), each agency establishes qualifications for SES positions, takes applications from would-be executives and makes selections to fill its own jobs. Final selections are subject to approval of the candidates "managerial qualifications" by a Qualifications Review Board within the Office of Personnel Management. OPM is headed by a presidential appointee.

This week the government is advertising to fill 36 SES positions, most in the Washington area. Six of the jobs in specialized fields are limited to federal workers only. The rest are up for grabs if, for instance, you can run the approval gantlet and can handle, for example, a top job at the Redstone Arsenal, assist the director of supply for the Army or run its personnel shop, are into advanced aircraft development, know lots about Navy-style computers and software or managing intercity programs for the Department of Transportation. (A complete list is available at the Office of Personnel Management and in federal job information centers. It is updated weekly.)

Even though it is hiring for the SES, federal officials expect that the executive ranks may be thinned a bit through a RIF. Special procedures will be used to reduce the executive force. They are being reviewed by OPM and the White House now and should be out within a week or so.