Mayor Marion Barry's long delay in deciding whether to renominate Keith A. Vance as director of the Office of Campaign Finance, the city's ethics agency, has created a somewhat uneasy political situation, according to District Building regulars.

Vance, whose term expired in March, has been put in the position of lobbying to keep his job with the mayor and the D.C. Council -- the very people whose official behavior he is supposed to monitor.

It's Vance's responsibility to make sure political candidates file timely and accurate campaign reports. In addition, the office maintains financial disclosure reports on elected officials and thousands of upper-level District government workers.

Decisions by Vance -- to be aggressive or conciliatory -- can have a major impact. For example, Vance and council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) have had a widely publicized battle over her campaign reporting and acceptance of gifts. Vance fined Jarvis $10,000 for campaign reporting violations.

Last week, Vance appeared to some Jarvis supporters and others to be far less concerned about the appearance of conflicts of interest when he was asked about the propriety of Barry's accepting the free use of hotel rooms in the city.

Vance's critics say that response is typical of what they call his "kid glove" treatment of Barry administration officials, including former deputy mayor Alphonse G. Hill.

Still, insiders at the District Building say Vance is not likely to be reappointed by the mayor, who is expected to make a decision in the next few weeks.

While many give Vance considerable credit for improving the management of the office, the mayor's staff has concluded that the office would be better run by an experienced lawyer who would have a consistent understanding of the law. Vance is not a lawyer. In addition, city officials say, Vance has shown poor judgment by occasional outbursts that have caused some to question his temperament.

Vance surprised the mayor's staff and the council by submitting a biting letter opposing the renomination of Otis H. Troupe as city auditor.

"The unprofessionalism, lack of credibility, maliciousness and the apparent conflicts of interests and motives in conducting an audit {of Vance's office} . . . render Mr. Troupe a wholly undesirable representative of the integrity standards which, I am sure, that a majority of the Council members would expect of the D.C. Auditor." Vance maintained that Troupe was acting in collusion with Jarvis.

"We are in the process of interviewing individuals who have the interest and the qualifications," said Dwight S. Cropp, director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations. Cropp, a close Barry adviser, is handling the reappointment. "We want to make it clear that Keith Vance has not been eliminated from consideration."

However, Cropp acknowledged that all five candidates interviewed for the job are lawyers and said that if Vance is not renominated, the mayor likely will place him elsewhere in city government.

Among the leading candidates for the post is Billy W. King, now Vance's legal counsel.

Garland Pinkston, a lawyer and senior adviser to Cropp, has been mentioned as a potential nominee. Pinkston, according to city officials, would be a strong candidate but Cropp said he doesn't want to lose him. Kemi Morten, Judiciary Committee clerk for Chairman Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8), also has been mentioned.

Under Vance, the campaign finance office has grown from nine employes with an annual budget of $432,000 to 35 employes and a $1 million operation with automated records that allow more efficient and quicker processing of information. Vance, who is paid $69,556 a year, will have been on the job five years in January.