General Services Administration employes who lost their four-day-week schedules last March may get them back. The question is for how long.

GSA had a large number of employes working 10-hour days, four days a week up until March 28, when Director Gerald Carmen put people back on the traditional eight-hour, five-day workweek.

Some top GSA officials were dissatisfied with the four-day workweek. The last straw came when Carmen peeked in some offices and discovered nobody there.

GSA scrubbed the four-day week for most folks here. The Coast Guard also abandoned its practice of giving civilian aides Friday off in return for working 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday.

The American Federation of Government Employees union protested GSA's return to the five-day week. It went to the Federal Service Impasses Panel. FSIP moved quickly, because Congress was considering legislation (since approved and sent to the president) to extend the so-called Alternate Work Schedule (AWS) program for another three years.

FSIP ruled in favor of an AFGE plan calling for a return to the four-day week (starting no later than July 19) at least until completion of a labor-management report on the effectiveness of the program. The report is due sometime in September, which would seem to indicate GSA people would be put back on the four-day-week schedule until the fall.

But even if GSA officials are forced to reinstitute the four-day week next week, they may have the last laugh.

The AWS legislation that Congress sent the president gives agency heads -- like GSA's Carmen -- 90 days after enactment when they can unilaterally cancel AWS programs, like the four-day workweek.

It is possible that GSA will put its people back on the four-day week next week and then, after the president signs the new AWS law, stick them back on the five-day week.

Nobody ever said running a government would be easy!