Dozens of federal agencies -- many of them Defense Department units -- that are facing money problems are expected to ask permission to offer early retirement options, linked to partial hiring freezes, over the next few months to senior civil servants.

The Office of Personnel Management recently approved an early-out plan for the Army Materiel Command that would allow up to 15,000 workers to retire between Feb. 1 and March 31 and receive a pension immediately.

Under civil service rules, the earliest an employee can retire is at age 55 after 30 years of service.

However, the early-out plan makes eligible for early retirement those AMC employees with 25 years of service regardless of age and those who are at least 50 with 20 years' service.

It is up to OPM to decide if agency early-out requests are necessary.

The Senate may hold hearings next month on a bill that would authorize all federal agencies to open the early retirement window for 90 days this year.

If that became law, thousands of workers who aren't eligible to retire because of age-service rules would be able to pull the plug early.

But insiders say that bill by Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.) has two chances: slim and none.

That's because of opposition from federal unions and congressional Democrats.

Instead of a governmentwide early out, top federal officials predict smaller, piecemeal early outs based on agency requests to OPM.

And they say that agencies granted early-out authority won't extend it to employees in hard-to-fill jobs, such as scientists, nurses, engineers and many clerical employees. Turnover in the clerical ranks is already five times as high as the average for all jobs.Job Mart

Treasury is looking for a supervisory librarian, GM (merit pay) 13. Call 566-5411.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking for computer programmers -- COBAL and JCL experience -- for jobs paying $22,907 to $36,032, and experienced accountants, $33,218 to $51,354. Call 272-7064.

The Army at Arlington Hall wants a supply clerk (typing) GS 4/5, with civil service status. Call Gloria Chandler at 692-5412.

The Federal Supply Service is looking for part-time clerk-typists and secretary- typists to work in Crystal City. Call Mary Wilson at 557-8563. FSS also has full-time openings for clerk-typists, GS 2 through 4; equipment (typing) operators, GS 2 and a secretary, GS 4 through 6. Call 557-8563.

Bureau of Labor Statistics needs a GS 6 secretary with CS status. Call Darlene Wilson at 523-1377.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has an opening in Norfolk for a GS 11 electronics engineer willing to spend half a year at sea. Call Mary Gregory at (804) 441-6876.

Brain Drain

The Senior Executives Association says the retirement rate for career federal executives has increased 61 percent in the last seven years. SEA President Carol Bonosaro blames the rise on low pay and pay freezes, and says the executive exodus could spell trouble for federal programs and the career service. SEA has begun analyzing case histories to see why some top federal executives leave and others stay despite better job offers from the private sector.