Signs of the difficulty the Carter administration is having in developing a national urban policy cropped up yesterday at the White House.
President Carter met with domestic policy aides and Office of Management and Budget officials for what was described as essentially a budget session on urban programs, including some that the administration may propose as part of an overall urban policy next March.
Sources said Carter held off any budget decisions, asking his aides for more information on the status of the urban policy itself, a process that is likely to take another week.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post obtained from a source close to urban groups a copy of an internal administration memorandum that is highly critical of the initial proposals for an urban policy.
The 37-page Commerce Department memorandum, with a brief covering letter written by Commerce Under Secretary Sidney Harman, is highly critical of the draft urban policy that was put together earlier by an interagency committee headed by officials of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In its opening section, the Commerce document criticized the draft urban policy for providing "no basis for setting priorities or making choices among proposals" and said it "lacks a rationale for providing special aid for distressed cities and their residents."
The Commerce document also criticized the draft policy for a "serious deficiency" in measuring the relative roles of the federal and state governments in dealing with urban problems.
"By confining the discussion of the states to what amounts to an appendix, the federal government is signaling its belief that the states are not a part of the problem and therefore they are not asignificant part of the solution."
According to numerous sources, the first draft of the proposed urban policy was greeted with criticism not only in agencies such as the Commerce Department but also within the White House. The White House domestic policy staff is now attempting to rework it, these sources said.