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Education lobbyists are anxiously speculating on who will fill two pivotal budget posts left vacant when Senator Lawton Chiles, a Florida Democrat, retires at the end of the year.

As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, and education, Mr. Chiles has been an influential advocate for education funding.

If Democrats retain control of the Senate, sources say, James R. Sasser of Tennessee, who generally supports the education community, will be the likely choice to head the budget panel.

On the appropriations subcommittee, some suggest, Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina, considered a "champion'' by many in educational leadership positions, will assume the chairmanship.

But all of the speculation hinges on whether or not Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia decides, as some are suggesting he will, to step down from his leadership post.

Mr. Byrd has seniority over Mr. Hollings on the appropriations subcommittee. But, if he does step down, the most likely scenario is that he will accept the chairmanship of the full Appropriations Committee, which will be left vacant by the retirement of John C. Stennis of Mississippi.

John Agresto, deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has turned down the opportunity to be considered for the top postsecondary post in the Education Department.

The job of assistant secretary for postsecondary education was left vacant this month when C. Ronald Kimberling agreed to head the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

Mr. Agresto, citing personal reasons, asked last week that his name be withdrawn from consideration.

A political scientist, the deputy chairman had been chosen to head the National Archives in 1986, but his nomination failed to win Senate approval.

As the investigatory arm of the Congress, the General Accounting Office probes almost every federal activity, including Pentagon purchasing.

But when the GAO released a list of its 10 most-requested documents published last year, not a single military report had made the grade.

Instead, the best seller, with 3,210 requests, was a report on innovative ways to reduce the number of school dropouts.

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