HEW officials who propose candidates for top career and political jobs had better include the names of qualified women, black and Hispanics unless they want to run afoul of Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris.
Harris plans to personally review the qualifications, race and sex of all individuals nominated for her department's nearly 800 "supergrade" ($47,500 plus) jobs, and also to look over lists of candidates for Schedule C (political) jobs down to the Grade 12 ($23,000) a year level.
HEW brass say that Harris, or a top assistant, Randolph S. Kinder, will make sure that all the lists include women and minority candidates, or ask why they do not.
HEW brass said Harris may interview all candidates for all top jobs. In cases where she or a designee cannot meet the candidates, an official said, Harris' office will call agency personnel officials to determine how many minority group members, or women, are on the lists of candidates submitted for jobs.
Harris, who moved over from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the recent cabinet reshuffle used a similar system at HUD. It was designated to ensure that women and minorities got on promotion or hiring lists for top jobs.During her two years at HUD, 12 minority group members and/or women were named to top area manager jobs that previously had been all male and all white.
In an Aug. 23 memo to top HEW officials, Harris said:
"Selection of individuals [to designated jobs] requires my approval or the approval of someone to whom I have delegated that approval authority. In most cases I will want to interview the top candidates or review their backgrounds . . . no one is authorized to announce any 'selection' of persons for these positions until the selection process is complete.
"Please inform all your managers who are involved in reviewing candidates for these positions that their role is limited to evaluating and making recommendations . . . "
An aide to Harris said that a "white male syndrome" exists at HEW, with women and minorities often excluded from lists of candidates for top jobs.
Asked how Harris or her staff would know whether the list contained names of women and minorities, an official said it was "simple. We will call the recommending officials up and ask how many women, how many blacks, how many Hispanics are on the lists."
A HEW official said that a top boss at the National Institute of Mental Health already had been overruled on choice of a top deputy because no women or minorities were considered for the job.
"Personnel runs this place," a member of Harris' staff said, "and we are going to make sure that all qualified candidates are considered, not just white males."