A House Judiciary subcommittee began a long series of hearings yesterday on white collars crime in an attempt to "apply gentle and supportive pressure" to the FBI and Justice Department.

Subcommittee Chairman John Conyers (D., Mich.) hopes to provide a overview of the government's efforts in this area to determine whether these efforts are inadequate.

The subcommittee plans to conduct hearings over the next 18 months, according to Conyers. The chairman said the extensive hearing were needed because "white collar crime is the most serious, all-pervasive crime problem in American today."

The subcommittee will next meet on july 12 to hear from Attorney General Griffin Bell, Deputy Atty. Gen. study will look into how the government investigates political corruption; the other will analyze which Justice Department resources are devoted to fighting this type of crime.

The hearing yesterday focused on the problem of defining a white collar crime, with testimony from Herbert Edelhertz, director of the Law and Justice Center of the Battelle Human Affairs Research Center in Seattle, and Professors Donald R. Cressey and Gilbert Geis of the University of California.

The need for a coordinated national strategy to combat white collar crime was discussed, as was the question of who should be punished - the corporation or the corporate officer.

In conjunction with the hearings, Conyers has authorized two studies by the General Accounting Office. One study will look into government investigates political corruption; the other will analyze which Justice Department resources are devoted to fighting this type of crime.

At the July 12 meeting with Bell, Civiletti and Webster, "the subcommittee is going to be asking some pretty hard questions about why so little is being done, despite promises," a committee official said. "We get the feeling that Civiletti is very committed to doing something, but other people disagree. For now, we'll give him the benefit of the benefit of the doubt."

The subcommittee has been studying the Justice Department's efforts to fight white collar crime for 10 months, and their findings have been 'very, very disppointing," officials said.