The administration will ask Congress for an austere $961 million budget -- 29 percent less than 1981 levels -- to run the Environmental Protection Agency in 1983, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
''The entire heart and soul of the agency'' will be cut, a federation spokesman said. The new budget which President Reagan sends to Congress Feb. 8 provides for a 24 percent staff reduction.
The book, ''Fat City,'' which President Reagan distributed to his Cabinet as a handbook on cutting government waste, rates EPA as one of the three best-managed federal agencies, the spokesman said. He also cited opinion polls showing strong support for environmental protection.