Responding to charges that the Carter administration is overrun with former consumer advocates, a Washington-based consumer group has released a report showing that consumer activists make up only 4 percent of Carter's highlevel appointees.

In a survey of 282 subcabinet presidential appointees -- those serving in the $50,000 to $57,500 pay brackets -- Public Citizen said that, of the 234 responses received, 179 were from Carter appointees.

Of those 179, there were 47 (26 percent) from the business community, 42 (23 percent) from previous executive branch positions, 21 (12 percent) from academia, 21 (12 percent) from the U.S. Congress, 17 (9 percent) from state or local government and 8 (4 percent) from what was described as the "public interest sector."

The eight former consumer activists named were: James Moorman, assistant attorney general, from the Sierra Club; Drew Days, assistant attorney general, from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Patrica Weld, assistant attorney general, from the Center for Law and Social Policy; Joan Claybrook, National Highway Traffic Safety administrator, from Public Citizen's Congress Watch; Carol Tucker Foremen, assistant secretary of Agriculture, from the Consumer Federation of America; Geno Baroni, assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, from the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs; Patricia Derian, assistant secretary of State, from the Southern Regional Council; and Gus Speth, member of the Council of Environmental Quality, from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In a letter sent with the survey to White House advisers Alfred Kahn and Arnold Miller, director of personnel for the Carter administration, Public Citizen Director Mark Green stressed the need for more administration appointments from the consumer field.

Green cited many articles in the business press alleging that the government was becoming overstocked with former consumer advocates, frequently citing those -- such as agency heads Joan Claybrook and Michael Pertschuk -- with high visibility.

"Business anxieties about a government stocked with consumer activists and lacking business representatives seem overwrought,"Green wrote. "There are no public-interest activists in the cabinet, and perhaps 12 such advocates out of 179 subcabinet Carter appointees surveyed, or 6 percent."

Green said that, although only 8 people actually came directly from consumer activist roles, four others -- Pertschuk of the Federal Trade Commission; Sam Brown, director of ACTION; Barbara Babcock, director of the Civil Division at the Justice Department; and Harrison Wellford, associate director of the Office of Management and Budget -- "can plausibly be counted as [having backgrounds in] public interest."

Green praised the Carter administration for "being the first administration to reach out to an activist community that has brought energy, expertise and ideas to government regulation and law enforcement."

"But," he added, "such a modest number of public interest advocates should not, in my view, permit you to rest on your oars."