A Federal Page item yesterday incorrectly reported that Edwin L. Dale Jr. will become the senior public affairs aide to incoming Commerce Secretary C. William Verity. Dale will be counselor to Verity. (Published 10/16/87)

Edwin L. Dale Jr., the former New York Times reporter who has served as spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget since 1981, is leaving to work for incoming Commerce Secretary C. William Verity.

Dale will become the senior public affairs aide to Verity, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday and is expected to assume the Cabinet position in a few days.

Malcolm G. Barr, Commerce Department director of media relations, said Dale will begin his new assignment next week, replacing B. Jay Cooper, who served as press secretary to the late Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige.

After Baldrige died in July when a horse fell on him in a rodeo accident, Cooper moved to the White House, where he serves as a deputy press secretary.

Dale, a former economics reporter who also served a stint on Capitol Hill, was hired in 1981 by then-OMB Director David A. Stockman, said yesterday that he decided to join Verity at Commerce because "I've always believed in the idea of change." Oink, Oink . . .

Some things change, and some things never change, and the boys'-club character of Congress often seems to belong to the second group. Consider senior Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), one of the powerhouses of the putatively liberal House.

Approached by a female reporter at a party Tuesday night for television host John J. McLaughlin, Dingell responded blandly: "What's a pretty girl like you doing working for a newspaper?" Fighting Back . . .

David Schmeltzer, whose recent transfer from the top enforcement job at the Consumer Product Safety Commission provoked an outcry from consumer groups, is fighting back.

Schmeltzer has hired the Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter and it has filed a spirited complaint against Terrence M. Scanlon, the CPSC's chairman and architect of Schmeltzer's job change. Yesterday the lawyers said that the office of special counsel at the Merit Systems Protection Board has launched an inquiry into Scanlon's unilateral decision to transfer Schmeltzer to a special studies job.

In a 25-page complaint filed with Scanlon, the lawyers have alleged that Scanlon's decision constituted "unjustified, cavalier treatment of an outstanding, longtime civil servant" and demanded that it be rescinded. They also have urged Scanlon to step aside from hearing Schmeltzer's formal job grievance because he is a party to it.

On Sept. 4, Scanlon invoked his administrative powers and directed that Schmeltzer, chief of the agency's compliance and administrative litigation directorate, head a study of the commission's field offices.Tipoff on Udall Book . . .

Former House speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. may get a literary challenge from another popular Capitol Hill veteran, Rep. Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz.). Udall's book, due in December from Holt & Co., is reportedly an amalgam of autobiography, political philosophy and -- of course -- Udall's rich collection of jokes and stories. The book's working title: "Too Funny to Be President."