The Carter administration asked Congress yesterday to delay for at least a year passage of legislation that would force President Carter to keep one of his most highly publicized promises and cut the size of the White House staff by about 30 per cent.

Instead, James ,McIntyre Jr., the deputy director of the Office of Mangement and Budget, said Congress this year should follow the system it has in the past and appropriate a lump sum for White House operations limiting the size of the President's staff.

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Employes Ethics and Utilization, McIntyre said that OMB is now in the midst of a study of the White House staff and the Executive Office of the President. The study, due to be completed in June, will lead to the first governmnet reorganization plan that the President will submit to Congress.

Until then, he said, it is impossible for the administration to recommend what the size and structure of the White House satff should be.

In the course of his testimony, McIntyre also:

Objected to a provision of the bill that would force the White House to reimburse other government agencies when ti borrows from the agency. He said he agreed with the provision in theory but that it would cause enormous "paperwork" problems.

Objected to another provision that would slash a White House fund for "unanticipated needs" from $1 million to $500,000. The $1 million fund, he said, "is a very, very small amount" compared with the entire federal budget.

Described as "unnecessary" provisions of the bill that would require the White HOuse to file with Congress and make public annual, detailed reports on staff salaries and other expenditures.

Questioned the wisdom of having audits, which would become public, of White House entertaiment expenses. "It's not a question of openness, but of what effect there would be if a report showed you spent one amount on one guest and another amount on a second guest," McIntyre said.

The bill, sposored by Reps. Herbert H. Harris (D-Va., Patricia Schroedaer (D-Colo.) and Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz), would limit the White HOuse staff to 401 employees. Harris said he settled on the number 401 because it would represent about a 30 per cent cut from the staff size during the current discal year.