Federal agencies that base salaries on the going rate in industries they regulate, rather than on regular civil service pay scales, pay their executives from $10,000 to $50,000 a year more than executives in other government organizations receive, according to a new study by the General Accounting Office.

GAO's report covers six U.S. bank-regulating agencies. Unlike federal operations, whose budgets come from Congress, the bank units get all or part of their funds from fees charged to customers.

The report gives a picture of what top government salaries might look like if Congress removed the statutory lid on regular civil service pay scales -- which are generally linked to congressional pay -- and if it let agencies follow the private marketplace.

Cabinet officers -- the secretaries of State and Defense and the postmaster general -- get $99,500 a year, and subcabinet officers are paid $72,500. Members of the government's Senior Executive Service, who are in six pay grades, get from $64,700 to $77,500. The average white-collar civil service salary here is about $32,000.

But executives of relatively small U.S. operations that are not covered by the regular civil service pay ceiling often are paid much more, according to GAO's study. Among other things it showed:Pay for top officials of the Federal Reserve Banks ranges from $86,500 to $170,800, with the median salary for the 87 top individuals being $97,500, almost as much as the secretary of the Treasury. Forty-nine officials of the Federal Home Loan Banks were paid between $88,500 and $210,000, GAO said, with the median salary $130,000. The Federal Asset Disposition Association's board of directors hired a consulting firm to help come up with the $250,000 figure it pays its chief executive officer. Another firm was hired to conduct market surveys of private sector pay for comparable CEO jobs, GAO said.

Even though the quasi-government agencies have salaries that are lavish when compared to other U.S. operations, most of them still believe that their top executives are underpaid compared with their counterparts and customers in private industry. GAO said that the Federal Reserve Banks hired a consulting firm to survey and analyze salary trends -- rather than actual pay for specific jobs -- because statistics indicated that private sector pay levels were "usually higher than the amounts the banks think they should pay."

Job Mart

Army in Arlington needs three temporary recreation assistants at the Grade 5 level. Call Dorothy Vinson at 692-0891.

Office of Personnel Management has an opening for a Wage Grade 5/6 motor vehicle operator with civil service status, and GS 5 through 9 accountants. Call Debra Relph at 632-9635.

The FBI wants clerks and clerk-typists, GS 3/4. Call 252-7031.

Meetings

Steve Morrissey, president of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, will speak at Thursday's meeting of NARFE's Wheaton-Glenmont Chapter at the Raindancer Seafood House in Rockville. Call 649-2387.

International Personnel Management Association is sponsoring a free professional development seminar starting at 10 a.m. Friday at the Commerce Department Auditorium. Giving the congressional outlook will be Andrew A. Feinstein, House civil service subcommittee, and Edward J. Gleiman and Jeffrey D. Landry, the majority and minority staff directors of the Senate federal services subcommittee. For information call 549-7100.