Top federal officials are lining up behind a plan to encourage government hiring offices to place "special emphasis" on recruiting women and minorities for up to 20 per cent of the government's nonclerical jobs.

Under the proposal now being publicly debated at the Civil Service Commission, federal agencies would identify occupations that don't have representative numbers of women, blacks. Spanish-speaking and other minoruties.

Goals - but, officials say, not quotas - would then be established by each agency. Special emphasis hiring programs would be undertaken until the numbers improved. In no case, officials say, would the goals inclide more thon 20 per cent of the job openings.

The idea is controversial, especially in a relatively static government jon market, because it would mean preferential hiring treatment for many groups, most of significant size. This is especially true in the case of women who outnumber men in the U.S. population.

Jule M. Sugarman, CSC's vice chairman and a long-time Carter adviser on the bureaucracy, is the architect of the plan, which won praise yesterday from a wide range of federal officials. It got something less than than from representatives of unions and management groups.

The hearing will continue Monday at CSC, which has promised to listen to anyone who wants to make an oral presentation and to keep the written record to open for two weeks so that anybody can get a position statement into the record.

Included in the proposal would be stepped up use of the so-called Schedule A hiring authority to bring minority group membres into government without the requirements of civil service tests. Schedule A is used for hiring and classifying government attorneys, students and others are not appropriate.

The Sugarman plan would require agencies to study their own record in various occupation levels, and determine if there has been a apparent "adverse impact" on minorities. When that determination had been made, agencies could be granted "excepted hiring authority" for up to five years to rectify the situation.

Sugarman points out that the program couldn't and wouldn't be restricted to minorities and women since the studies also would show, in some area, that white males also had been victims of the "adverse impact" of hiring. But most experts agree that the majority of the special hiring program beneficiaries would be from minority groups in most of the occupations.

Ar yesterday's hearings, top officials of Labor, HEW, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Army endorsed the Sugarman concept. Several made a pitch for more local by agencies, becuase hiring patterns are different geographically.

A spokesman for the National Federation of Federal Employees said the union favors all the concept of opening up jobs to all comers. But she urged that the merit system rules be followed and said that special emphasis programs would be better received in an "expanding" government employment picture - that is, if government is growing.

Bun gray, of the National Association of Supervisors, representing Defense Department line managers, said the Sugarman program smacks of a "quota" system, no matter what officials choose to call it.

The debate - which involves thousands of new federal jobs and who will get them, and how - will continue Monday. It will be so metime in January before the final policy decisions is made.