Today's Monday morning quarterbacks tackle early retirement, the pay gap and clerical job shortages.

One reader says Congress must redraw early-out plans. Another says the pay gap is based on incomplete data. Yet another says secretaries and stenographers aren't hard to find if you know where to look.

" . . . Regarding early-outs. The issue is clear. And the solution is equally clear. There is no excuse for congressional inaction.

"The budget must and will be cut significantly. Congress will decide spending needs and budget dollars will be allocated to agencies more or less in accord with priorities. This will determine the number of workers in each agency. It will also determine the need for reductions-in-force (RIFs).

"Numbers will vary by agencies. Some will indeed have an increase in employment rather than RIFs.

"Fact two: there will be an overall reduction in federal employment. The most equitable way to manage the RIF is to encourage early-outs government-wide. This will create vacancies that would be first filled directly from the pool of RIF employees based on their performance rating and job skills. Those who can't be placed must be offered retraining or some other benefit.

"The bills under discussion {a government-wide early-out proposed by Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.) and the Defense-only pension sweetener plan by Rep. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)} cover some problems but fall short in several respects. Boxer's bill doesn't extend early-outs to non-Defense workers, thus severely restricting the number and scope of vacancies and reemployment opportunities. Roth's bill prohibits filling vacancies it would create.

"I hope . . . Congress focuses on the issue and moves ahead. It's far more important than many things currently getting their attention." J.W. Washington

"Your June 16 column {about a General Accounting Office study showing federal pay behind industry salaries in big cities} is again comparing apples vs. oranges. How about the total package comparison (vacations, pensions, holidays and health insurance benefits) with all factors weighed.

"Studies normally turn out the way people slant them. Figures don't lie, they just get misrepresented and apples are compared with oranges." R.P.H. Woodbridge

Federal agencies in the Washington area now pay 32,000 clerical workers in Grades 2 through 7 salary differentials ranging from 2 percent to nearly 30 percent. One reader says there may be a way to end the shortage:

" . . . People take the typist/steno/secretary test every day at the Office of Personnel Management. It would be simple to have personnel recruiters read through test scores and call candidates for interviews.

"A clerical personnel shortage indicates that higher authority is either extremely inefficient or doesn't want the work performed in a timely manner. There are many ways to screw up an agency. Not hiring enough clericals is one of them." Raymond Avrutis Washington