The District of Columbia Recreation Department "circumvented" regulations in spending $175,841 of capital funds for maintenance work, the General Accounting Office reported yesterday.

U.S. Comptroller General Elmer B. Staats said the misspent money included $2,644 for remodeling a kitchenette and bathroom adjoining the office of Rrecreation Department director William H. Rumsey.

Rumsey yesterday acknowledged in an interview that "there has been a violation of the intended use of the funds," but stressed that all the funds were spent for public facilities and that "there are receipts for every dime."

Staats said that GAO's review found that of $205,035 in unexpended construction funds returned by federal park officials to the Recreation Department in June, 1975, $132,013 of capital funds were spent for operation and maintenance which are not legally authorized by the appropriation acts."

In addition, Staats said, "About $23,970 was spent or committed for capital projects without District and Congressional committee reprograming approval as required by District policy."

Furthermore, Staats continued, "another $19,856 was spent for administrative costs of the (National Park) Service under an agreement which was not approved by the major or the federal office of management and budget as required" by the home rule act.

Staats' report said that the cost of remodeling Rumsey's office kitchenette and bathroom was $2,644 and not $1,548, as the District had contended.

Rumsey said yesterday the kitchenette adjoining his office at the Recreation Department's headquarters at 3149 16th St. NW is "hardly a luxury facility." He said it occupies part of a former washroom and is limited to a two-ring hotplate, 23-inch sink, small refrigerator and some cabinets.

Rumsey said that most of the $175,841 in capital funds spent for maintenance work went for resurfacing basketball and tennis courts, painting swimming pools and other recreational improvements.

The GAC report was requested and released by Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.), departing chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee's District subcommittee, who last August expressed concern about District officials "plushing up" their offices at public expense.