David K. McCloud, whose appointment last week to assume the day-to-day operations at the Center for Innovative Technology touched off a storm of criticism, will probably keep the job for only six months.

In an apparent departure from the initial announcement of his hiring, McCloud acknowledged in an interview yesterday that his tenure would be short.

"I would hope that in six months that I would go back to Richmond to pursue other opportunities," said McCloud, who is Gov. Charles S. Robb's chief of staff. "It's time for me to do some things in private industry."

The CIT, a pet project of Robb's, was designed to coordinate research between high-tech industries and state universities. But it has been criticized by state legislators and many Northern Virginia officials who fault CIT President Robert H. Pry and other CIT officials for a failure to explain the kind of research the agency does and to name the industries involved.

The McCloud appointment was widely seen by those critics and others as a vote of no-confidence in Pry, who, as president, has taken the brunt of the criticism. Watkins has denied contentions that McCloud was being brought in to usurp Pry's authority.

Last Wednesday, Robb and CIT officials announced that McCloud would take over the newly created position at the troubled $30.2 million agency at an annual salary of $97,500 when Robb's term ends in January.

The appointment generated sharp criticism from political officials who questioned the additional appropriation -- Pry's yearly salary is $100,000 -- at a time when both the agency and Robb, its sponsor, had been unable to clearly define its role.

Both McCloud and Hays Watkins, chairman of the CIT board, contended that the most recent job description for McCloud was not prompted by criticism of his appointment. Watkins said the CIT board's "understanding is that he would certainly be there for six months and then we would sit down and review the situation.

"I know Dave is quite anxious to make his fortune," Watkins added.

Watkins said the idea of a short-term tenure was not mentioned in last week's announcement from the governor's office because he did not want to leave the impression that McCloud was a "lame-duck administrator."

That explanation was met with skepticism by state Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell Jr., a Republican from Alexandria. Mitchell said he and other officials believed that McCloud's appointment would not be short term.