Most government workers doing the same job get the same pay, no matter where they are. Exceptions include feds in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other high-cost areas. They get tax-free differentials (up to 25 percent in Alaska) over and above regular U.S. salary rates.

When Uncle Sam does make salary differentials, he usually sets them for a big area--like Alaska--or for specific jobs in large cities. That reflects pay competition from the private sector, or the shortage of people to fill the jobs, or both.

When the government decides on rate differentials it usually makes them city-wide, or regional. For example stenos, typists and some other clerical U.S. workers in San Francisco-Oakland get about $1,000 more per year than their counterparts in Denver, Washington, Boston and other cities.

But when it comes to sprawling Los Angeles, the government really draws the line in setting special rate areas, lest they cover all of southern California.

Clerks, stenos and secretaries in parts of Los Angeles get about $2,000 more than workers at the same grade level in Washington, and about $1,000 more than their colleagues in San Francisco.

But LA is so big that the government has carefully marked off the high-pay area. How carefully? How about this:

" . . . within the area bounded by Manchester Avenue on the north, Crenshaw Boulevard on the east, Artesia Boulevard and Gould Avenue on the south and the Pacific Ocean on the west."

Tough luck for feds on the wrong side of Crenshaw, or too far off Artesia Boulevard. They get Washington rates. That is what is called precision pay-setting.