District Mayor Marion Barry announced yesterday that the city has hired a Cleveland human services administrator to head the District's problem-plagued social services commission. Marjorie Hall-Ellis, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Human Services, will begin work here Oct. 1.

Barry said Hall-Ellis, who has worked for the Ohio social services agency for about 30 years, was hired for the $68,500 post after "an extensive nationwide search." She was brought to the attention of District officials by the same Boston search firm that found Hall-Ellis' prospective new boss, Marion Jerome Woods, who was named director of the D.C. Department of Human Services in July.

Woods oversees three commissions -- for social services, public health and mental health. Woods' appointment must be confirmed by the D.C. Council; commissioners do not require confirmation.

Hall-Ellis succeeds Audrey Rowe, who headed the massive agency for seven years. Rowe was appointed special human services adviser to the mayor in March. Vernon Hawkins, who has been acting social services commissioner, will take a new position that was not disclosed yesterday.

In recent years, the commission has had significant problems tracking its foster care children and managing the city's youth corrections facilities. Education funds for children in detention have gone unused; there have been major staff shortages at the centers; and teen-age offenders have escaped repeatedly from the city-run Cedar Knoll and Oak Hill detention centers in rural Maryland.

Barry said in a statement yesterday that Hall-Ellis "shares my vision regarding the need to improve our day care, foster care, youth corrections, vocational rehabilitation, income maintenance and homeless programs. She has a demonstrated ability to plan, implement and direct service delivery programs and {has} the expertise in . . . solving problems that affect people."

Hall-Ellis could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Tim Hagan, president of Cuyahoga County's three-member board of commissioners, called Hall-Ellis "a tough, pragmatic, forceful administrator." In an interview yesterday, he said she is "streetwise" and not "reticent about expressing her views." Hagan also pointed out that the administrator has gotten along well with three different boards since she was appointed human services director in 1981.

Hagan credits Hall-Ellis with overseeing the computer modernization of the department and for initiating the "Cleveland Works" employment program for welfare recipients.

District officials would not release her age yesterday.