Mayor Marion Barry has asked Julian R. Dugas, director of the District of Columbia's license department, to leave city hall and accept a job at Howard University, sources have told The Washington Post.

If Dugas declines the college post, which would permit him to retain his $47,500-a-year salary and his civil service rights as a city employe since 1953, Barry plans to fire Dugas, and has aleady ordernd dismissal papers drawn up, the sources said.

Dugas, 60 the number two man in the Walter Washington administration and the closest friend of the former mayor, was made hed of the department of Licenses, Inspections and Investigations shortly before Washington left office. Dugas was also named chairman of the influential Alcoholic Beverage Control Board by Washington. Barry wants to have someone of his own choosing in both posts.

A refusal by Dugas of the Barry offer would set the stage for the first major court test of Barry's campaign commitment to remove those top city officials he considered insensitive or incompetent, even at the expense of challenging civil service reagulations.

Dugas has been a virtual czar over granting vital city licenses for more than six years. He wants to remain in city government for about two more years, friends say, in order to gain maximum retirement benefits.

"Julian has not formally turned it down. Informally, he has not accepted it and he has not expressed that he is moving toward accepting it," one Barry confidant said of the college position offer. "I think the mayor is extending himself as far as he can.

"Firing's being discussed. We're not trying to get Juhan's back against the wall. We've trying a very human approach, we think," the confidant said. "But the bottom line is the mayor's going to have his own administration. He's not afraid to use the option of firing someone."

Dugas referred all discussion of his job status to the city personnel office. Personnel director George R. Harrod said he was unaware of any such offer.

Sources said the plan would allow Dugas to be either an instructor or administrator at Howard University glaw School, of which he is an alumnus.

Barry, who refused to discuss his plans for Dugas, said that discussions between Dugas and Howard University President James E. Cheek had been in progress for some time.

"I have been informed that negotiations have been going on with Hulian and the president for over a year," Barry said. "When I found out about those negotiations, I just tried to find out more about what was going on."

To place Dugas on the Howard staff, the city could utilize an existing option that allows city and federal governments to "loan" bureaucrats to private institutions. Under that arrangement, Howard might pay up to one-half of Dugas' salary.

The sources said Barry discussed the offer with Dugas shortly after the new mayor was inaugurated Jan. 2. According to one source, Dugas informally declined the offer early last week and Barry's office expects a formal answer in the next few days.

Barry reaffirmed in an interview Friday his intention to replace Dugas, but not because of incompetence. "I have never said Julian Dugas was incompetent," Barry said. "In essence, I have said he was close to Walter Washington, he was WalterWashington's city administrator and relfects Walter Washington's philosophy. It's a philosophy and a view which I differ with."

Barry said it would thus be inappropriate for Dugas to go from city administrator in the Washington government to license director in the Barry government. "That just doesn't work. it would be like me going back on the City Council," Barry said.

Barry succeeded in removing two department heads -- former housing director Lorenzo W. Jacobs Jr. and planning director Ben. W. Gilbert -- without going to dourt.

Jacobs agreed to accept a previously nonexistent, $38,000-a-year position in the city's personnel department effective Jan. 2, Barry announced Thursday.

Barry abolished Gilbert's position and reassigned longtime friend James O. Gibson to Gilbert's former responsibilities with a new litle -- assistant city administrator for planning and development. Gilbert, who is temporarily assisting Gibson, is expected to leave city government in 30 to 60 days.

Several other persons Barry has targeted for removal are acting department heads and can be replaced with fewer civil service impediments than full-fledged department directors like Jacobs and Dugas.

When asked last week if he anticipated any problems in removing department heads -- he has said he will change aobut two-thirds of the leadership of city departments -- Barry responded, "I am having some difficulty in one or two instances."

Barry declined to say what those instances were.