The Carter administration is beginning an effort to find out if there is support among state and local officials for a proposed major reorganization of federal programs for economic and community development.
At a White House meeting last Friday the president reportedly expressed interest in the proposal but gave no commitment on whether he will recommend it to Congress.
Sources said James T. McIntyre Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, which is urging Carter to push for the plan, contended that there is support among public officials and interest groups for it.
But Stuart E. Eizenstat, the president's adviser for domestic policy, argued there is insufficient support among state and local officials and in Congress for the plan to succeed, these sources said.
"The president said, in effect, that they both couldn't be right, and he asked them to go out and make some phone calls," one source said.
An administration official said the telephoning by White House and OMB staffers to mayors, governors, county board leaders and private interest groups would begin today. He said "50 or so" calls would be made.
At the meeting, the senior officials also discussed an OMB proposal to create a new Department of Natural Resources, which would replace and expand the Interior Department. The more controversial proposal would create a new Department of Development Assistance, expanding the functions of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A White House press release issued Friday said that in both areas the president "indicated a concern about duplication and inefficiencies and a general desire to move toward increased program consolidation." But it stressed that no decisions have been made.
The press release said the phoning would continue over the next several weeks, but one source said he expects it will be completed in two weeks.
Under both OMB proposals, the Commerce Department would lose major functions -- its Economic Development Administration to the new development department and its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the new resources agency.