Office of Personnel ManagementThe agency monitoring federal layoffs and furloughs--is planning to furlough most of its 5,700 staffers for up to 22 days starting in early April.

Under OPM's complex guidelines, some people could be furloughed only one hour every two weeks. Others would lose 10 percent of their salary, one day's pay, each pay period.

OPM is one of many agencies hit by a 16 percent cut in S&E (salaries and expenses) funds for the fiscal year that started in October. President Reagan ordered most agencies to cut spending 12 percent. Before taking its month-long Christmas vacation, Congress slapped an extra 4 percent cut on agencies.

Some budgets are still awaiting a congressional okay. Most agencies appealed part of their cuts, hoping to save programs and jobs and avoid furloughs. Two major agencies, OPM and the General Services Administration, did not appeal their cuts.

GSA, with 12,000 employes here, had fired 235 workers here as of last Friday. More RIFs are likely. GSA has not formally announced furloughs.

OPM says its own furloughs through Aug. 7 will be held to a maximum of 10 non-consecutive days. Between Aug. 8 and Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, many workers could be furloughed an additional 10 days, probably consecutive days in some cases.

Furlough time for each individual will be determined by how much of their salary comes from S&E funds (some workers are paid in whole or part by other accounts).

OPM guidelines say ". . . a full-time employe in any organization that expends only S&E funds would be furloughed for 8 hours per pay period. A full-time employe in an organization that spends 50 percent S&E and 50 percent other funds would be furloughed for 4 hours per pay period. Any fractional hours will be rounded down to the nearest whole hour." That means some people could be furloughed only one or two hours in each 80-hour (two-week) pay period.

OPM says that employes who want to take all the time off at once can request leave without pay if their supervisor agrees. Some workers who can't afford a 10 percent cut are already trying to line up temporary jobs.

Worker reaction is mixed, that is ranging from rage to despair. Some employes say they are willing to take a furlough to save colleagues from RIFs. But many believe their political bosses are welcoming the cuts (not fighting them) to win brownie points with the White House.

Census Bureau chiefs go in the barrel today before Rep. Robert Garcia's (D-N.Y.) census subcommittee. Census, with 3,500 workers here, plans nationwide dismissals of around 450 people, more than half of them here, soon. Another 700 employes will be downgraded nationwide.

More than 4,700 federal workers (612 here) were fired in the last four months. An additional 2,700 RIF notices went out in January, including 600 in metro Washington which has 360,000 feds. Hardest hit have been Public Health Service, Labor, Agriculture, Action, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency.

Although few agencies have formally announced furloughs, an estimated 42,000 workers (all outside the Defense Department) face potential furloughs this summer.

Ironically, the government is still hiring while it is firing. Two Sundays back Census--despite its RIF--advertised in The Post for temporary telephone solicitors at $4.92 per hour. Some of you about-to-be-fired Census people ought to get yourselves out to the Census Bureau. It is hiring, you know.