Last week, a 40-hour-a-week fed tore into his workaholic colleagues who routinely come in early, stay late and take work home. Their frantic pace, he said, is a sign of insecurity or an unhappy home life, but their apparent dedication and productivity make their more "normal" peers look bad.

This week's Monday Morning Quarterbacks are a self-described workaholic and a private consultant who agrees that political appointees -- not career feds -- cause most of the government's problems. They write:

*"The letter from B.E.L., of Rockville, labeled employes who work lots of unpaid overtime as 'apple-polishers.' His letter had two central themes: That what they are doing is illegal and that they are cheating their fellow workers by appearing more productive than they really are. As a card-carrying and unreconstructed workaholic, I would like to respond.

"To my knowledge, there is no law intended to protect the government from getting more than it pays for. Work rules are to make sure the government gets a day's work for a day's pay and ensure that bosses don't extract uncompensated work through duress . . . . It's unlikely the Justice Department has prosecuted many people for working late to finish assignments.

"The second issue, that working unpaid overtime makes some workers appear they can outperform others, is more fundamental. The complainer hit the nail on the head -- those people are indeed outperforming their peers. If you are interested in time and speed trials, go buy a race horse . . . . The productive employe is the one who gets things done -- period! Anyone worthy of being called a professional focuses on the product, not the clock.

" . . . Any person who puts in eight hours of productive work a day deserves all appropriate rewards. What doesn't follow is the wacky notion that anyone putting in more time deserves censure.

"I hope that B.E.L's work theories aren't contagious. Maybe that's why this letter was written on a Japanese typewriter."

*Workaholic at the National Institute of Mental Health

*"The Sept. 23 letter about the quality of political managers really hit home to this management consultant who has worked many years with career executives and found most to be dedicated, hard-working professionals whose major problems have been caused by political appointees . . . .

"Every president since Nixon (with the possible exception of Gerald Ford) tried to make political capital out of putting civil servants down, and has appointed legions of unqualified political executives. Civil servants try against all odds to train political appointees, whose average tenure is about 16 months . . . .

"Instead of taking civil servants' hard-earned experience in how to get things done, the politicians are driven by their own personal agendas and administration policies. The result is indeed all too often poor management but Jimmy Carter's often-blamed civil service reforms aren't the problem. It tried to reward superior performance, but as administered by politicians of both parties, it has become the means to attack the civil service . . . resulting in the worst morale among federal employes I have seen in 25 years.

"Effective managers know that while the positive approach almost always works, the negative approach never works. The assumption that only loyal political appointees can manage the government is self-destructive."

C.D.O., Annandale