Kenneth L. Foran, director of the Merit Systems Protection Board's research office, has been removed from that job after publicized reports that all work in his office had ground to a halt.

Foran came to public attention last week after one of his employes, Gene I. Browning, resigned his $44,000-a-year job in protest, saying that he and other employes in the office had "absolutely nothing to do."

In a sharply worded resignation letter, Browning blamed Foran for failing to initiate any new studies of the federal work force and complained that Foran had little to do. Foran, who remained unavailable for comment yesterday, was installed by the Reagan administration last October as director of the MSPB's Office of Merit Systems Review and Studies.

Herbert Ellingwood, chairman of the merit board, this week reassigned Foran to a non-supervisory job as an attorney in the board's Office of Appeals Counsel, which writes legal briefs on employe grievances. Agency sources said the three-member board suggested the move because of the negative publicity generated by Browning's resignation.

A merit board spokesman said the research office has been stymied by budget cuts but hopes to begin several studies under Dennis Little, who had served as Foran's deputy and has been named to replace him.