The Agency for International Development has protested the Reagan administration's proposed rules for the government's annual charity drive, saying that the new guidelines will hamper the efforts of overseas service groups.
In a letter sent yesterday to Donald J. Devine, director of the Office of Personnel Management, AID administrator M. Peter McPherson said certain of OPM's proposed regulations "would seriously disadvantage" international service agencies and threaten their ability to participate equally in what has become an increasingly competitive drive for the contributions of federal workers.
Echoing that concern, Rep. Michael D. Barnes (D-Md.), chairman of the House Foreign Relations subcommittee on inter-American affairs, argued in another letter to Devine that impeding collections by overseas charity groups would "damage the vital, humanitarian American presence that should be felt abroad."
Payroll deductions to the Combined Federal Campaign raised an estimated $13.7 million in the Washington area and $93 million nationwide last fall, making it the largest charity solicitation drive in the country. The struggle to participate in the campaign and to secure a portion of the "undesignated" collections--funds that aren't earmarked for a particular group--has sometimes pitted charity against charity.
While supporting the overall concept of the proposed regulations, AID's McPherson cited three provisions he said could cause problems for the 15 international service agencies in the campaign, including CARE, Project Hope, Save the Children, Foster Parents Plan and Africare.
McPherson criticized a proposal to delegate all policy and operational decisions to the leading fund-raising group in each local charity drive, expected to be the United Way in nearly every case. Instead, he said, the campaign's operation should be handled by a more representative and independent group composed of several participants.
He also argued that overseas groups would lose their traditional share of undesignated contributions if it is left to one group to decide how to distribute the funds.
And he said that to list all organizations alphabetically rather than by types of charity would jeopardize the collective "appeal" of the overseas groups, some better known than others.
Responding to AID's concerns, Devine said the purpose of the new regulations is to encourage federal workers to make designated contributions and thus eliminate much of the in-fighting among charities. He said a pilot effort in San Francisco increased designated funds to 75 percent from 40.
The OPM director said also that no one group would have complete control over the charity drive. All decisions, he said, would be made by coordinating committees in each campaign area.
Devine did say, however, that OPM may decide to group the charities by type of recipient and, in any case, expects to describe each charity briefly in the alphabetical list.
OPM expects to implement the new regulations in time for the 1983 charity drive. However, a petition is circulating in Congress urging President Reagan to reconsider the guidelines. Additionally, the Senate Civil Service subcommittee has asked Devine to withdraw the proposed rules and run this fall's campaign under the old regulations. Friday is the deadline for comments.