There's an air of confidence among District officials as Congress begins deliberating the city's proposed fiscal 1984 budget and Mayor Marion Barry's latest scheme for eliminating a nagging $296 million accumulated deficit.

In the past, these annual Capitol Hill budget reviews have been a painful experience for city officials, with congressmen using them as a forum to berate the city for sloppy financial management or airing pet peeves.

But after two consecutive years of balancing the general operating budget and improved prospects for entering the private bond market late this year, city officials believe they are on more solid ground in negotiating with Congress.

"They do have a better handle on where the money is coming from and going, and that's certainly in their favor," a well-placed Senate aide said recently. "Now they have a track record that they can point to."

Betsy Reveal, the mayor's budget director, thinks there will be a minimum of congressional tinkering with the budget this time, primarily because it's a tight document with little room for maneuvering.

Moreover, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, is scrapping more traditional line-by-line budget review sessions in favor of more thematic, roundtable discussions of city issues and problems. Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) has posed one possible obstacle to a smooth budget review, however: his proposal to hold up a $386 million federal payment until the city closes a Lorton Reformatory firing range near some of his constituents' homes.

The City Council, which traditionally has taken a back seat to the mayor in steering the city's budget through Congress, will take a more aggressive role this time.

Council Chairman David A. Clarke views himself as an equal partner with Mayor Marion Barry in defending the city's budget before congressional committees. He has assigned Richard Siegel, the council's budget director, to monitor congressional hearings and markups of the $1.9 billion budget and prepare daily reports for the 13 members of the council.

"I expect to have staff up there at all times and hopefully at all levels of participation," Clarke said this week. "I will be sending a report daily to the council on what happens on the Hill. That's the first time that's ever been done."

It was billed as "We Love Effi Barry Day" and was sponsored Monday by her friends who believe that "no one has done anything special" for the mayor's wife.

About 70 people attended the luncheon at the Gangplank Restaurant, with part of the proceeds from the $12-a-ticket luncheon going to Howard University for cancer research.

This was the second event sponsored by Friends of Effi Barry, a three-member group formed last year by Ed Van Kloberg, a public relations agent; Janett Martin, a member of the mayor's staff, and Ethel Terry. Terry, a consultant, recently opened a travel agency with Mrs. Barry.

The wife of another high-level D.C. official recently started a new job as well. Winifred Donaldson, wife of Deputy Mayor Ivanhoe Donaldson, has been transferred from the Department of Environmental Services, where she dealt with water billing problems, to the Department of Transportation.

Winifred Donaldson, who is paid about $37,000 a year, now works as a special assistant to Frederic Caponiti, head of the Bureau of Parking. Caponiti said last week that Donaldson is advising him on legislative issues and is reviewing the city's law on residential parking, among other duties.

Site-selection postscripts: One of the unsung heroes of the District's highly praised but unsuccessful bid for the 1984 Democratic National Convention is Pauline Schneider, the mayor's director of intergovernmental relations.

Schneider, a former White House staff assistant in the Carter administration, served as logistics expert and general trouble-shooter during the Democratic site-selection committee's three-day visit here.

Scores of national party officials, including Chairman Charles Manatt, said they were impressed with the sophistication of the city's bid. Raymond Majerus, who was chairman of the 27-member site selection panel, said it was Schneider's attention to detail that gave the bid an extra boost.

Washington finished second to San Francisco in the competition last week, ahead of Detroit, Chicago and New York.