Office of Management and Budget Director Alice M. Rivlin ran into trouble in her search outside the agency for a new deputy. First there was Robert Greenstein, head of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But he withdrew.

Then the job was floated toward former representative Alan Wheat (D-Mo.) after he lost his Senate bid in November to Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.). Wheat took a job running the Washington office of CARE.

So Rivlin looked inside and announced at a recent staff meeting that she'd selected Jacob J. "Jack" Lew, a longtime aide to former House speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill. Lew had worked at the White House on national service and health care issues before moving to OMB in October as associate director for legislative affairs. In the last couple of months, he served as executive associate director, the focal point for handling day-to-day activities for Rivlin. The GAO Study That Wasn't * Some Democrats in Foggy Bottom are chortling about the General Accounting Office study that wasn't. Seems House International Relations Committee Republicans in late February ordered up a 30-day study to see, among other things, how much would be saved by the GOP's plan to merge three operations -- the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the U.S. Information Agency and the Agency for International Development -- into the State Department.

The Democrats say the GAO briefed GOP committee staffers recently and told them that the study showed there would be no real cost savings under the merger. The GAO analysts said they would put their findings in writing, sources said, but were told instead to look at other areas and were given new questions about organizational and other issues.

The Republicans acknowledge that the merger would not yield cost savings, one committee aide said. "But we never assumed major savings out of consolidation," the aide said. "The key factor in consolidation is that there are going to be major program cuts. Consolidation gives the secretary {of state} greater control" over how to handle massive budget reductions in the overall foreign affairs appropriation.

Meanwhile, some truly bizarre alliances are emerging as fans of the agencies weigh in to try to keep them alive.

Try to remember the last time this group, all lobbying to keep a separate USIA, agreed on anything: Former Democratic representatives Geraldine S. Ferraro, Dante Fascell and Michael Barnes and President Jimmy Carter's assistant secretary of state for human rights, Patricia Derian, teaming up with Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner Jr., Forbes magazine boss Malcolm S. Forbes Jr. and former Republican senator Malcolm Wallop.

The mind reels. . . Shifting Around at Treasury * Catching up on moves at the Treasury Department as Secretary Robert E. Rubin settles in:

Neal S. Wolin, executive assistant to national security adviser Anthony Lake and before that deputy legal adviser at the National Security Council, becomes deputy to Treasury General Counsel Edward S. Knight. Peter Bass, a career civil servant and senior adviser at the State Department to assistant secretary Thomas E. Donilon, and a classmate of Wolin's at Yale Law School, will take Wolin's job.

Michael B. Levy, assistant secretary for legislative affairs, moves to senior adviser to Rubin; Linda L. Robertson, now deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, assumes management of the legislative affairs operations -- but watch for her to get the assistant secretaryship nod from President Clinton. Public affairs deputy assistant secretary Howard Schloss assumes management of public affairs from Joan Logue-Kinder, who is leaving. Word is he may also see an assistant secretaryship coming his way.

George R. Tyler, deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs, is going to the World Bank to head the external affairs office there. Victor Rojas, formerly deputy to Levy in legislative affairs, replaces Tyler. Eliot Brenner, speechwriter for former treasury secretary Lloyd Bentsen, stays at the word processor for Rubin. Sean J. Darragh, a West Pointer who had been director for global issues and multilateral affairs at NSC and with the Clinton campaign as a foreign policy adviser, becomes senior adviser to Undersecretary for International Affairs Lawrence H. Summers.

Michael Barr, former Rhodes scholar and clerk to Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and in the State Department's policy planning operation, moves over as a special assistant to Rubin. Rubin, On the Money * Speaking of Rubin, he's going to be on the money starting Monday, when the new series 1995 currency starts getting printed at plants here and in Fort Worth with his signature on it. (Quick quiz: How many bills will be printed each day with his signature? About 35 million notes with a value of about $465 million.) It's Official. . . * Clinton yesterday said he would nominate Jenonne R. Walker, former CIA analyst and senior director for Europe on the National Security Council staff, to be ambassador to the Czech Republic. Career foreign service officer Peter Tomsen, now principal deputy assistant secretary for East Asian affairs, special envoy to the Afghan resistance and former No. 2 in Beijing, is to be ambassador in Armenia.

Also, Washington lawyer and U.S. Trade Representative General Counsel Ira S. Shapiro is getting a promotion to ambassador rank while he handles bilateral negotiations with Canada and Japan.