The General Accounting Office says that several dozen federal workers in Fairfax City are entitled to premium pay because they had to work Inauguration Day (Jan. 21) while most other federal workers here had the day off.

The Fairfax City employes, most of whom work for the Defense Investigative Service, were caught up in a bureaucratic-geographical bind because the city was not an independent entity in 1957. That was the year Congress passed a law granting the one-day holiday to civil servants in what was then officially defined as the metropolitan area. Fairfax City became independent of Fairfax County in 1961.

The law gave Inauguration Day off to employes whose offices are in the District and Prince George's and Montgomery counties, Alexandria, Falls Church and Arlington and Fairfax counties. One major purpose of the law was to clear streets for the quadrennial festivities.

But because Fairfax City, located in the middle of Fairfax County, wasn't mentioned in the original law, government officials ruled that employes working there were not entitled to the holiday that their colleagues enjoyed.

GAO got into the legal issue of the geographical quirk and decided that it was the intent of Congress to give the special day off to employes within specific areas and that the areas remain the same.

The premium pay -- double time for the eight hours worked for most employes -- will amount to several thousand dollars.