Federal investigators have told the White House that John V. Graziano, President Reagan's inspector general at the Agriculture Department, has engaged in "apparently unorthodox recruitment techniques" involving several women.
Graziano's actions are outlined in a confidential report by investigators at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The probe was requested by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency after one of Graziano's former employes, Stevie L. Carroll, accused him last April of hiring a number of "cronies and girlfriends."
Nearly all of Carroll's accusations were either groundless or could not be proven, investigators said. But their report also said that, in at least four instances, Graziano approached women socially and discussed USDA job openings or promotions in such a way that the women believed Graziano would expect sexual favors in return for his help, a copy of an internal report obtained by The Washington Post shows.
"With one possible exception, it does not appear that overtly illegal actions took place," the report said. "However, because personnel actions may still be taken with regard to the persons we have identified, and because we have ascertained the existence of a pattern of such activity, which may have involved more than the four women of whom we have become aware, we believe that this issue warrants some discussion."
Graziano was quoted in the confidential report as saying the charges are false. He did not return a reporter's telephone call yesterday.
Joseph R. Wright, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and head of the presidential council that ordered the probe, said the Justice Department, the Office of Personnel Management and the White House had reviewed the 780-page report and decided that no disciplinary action was necessary.
"Overall, it gave Graziano a fairly clean bill of health," said Wright, who declined to answer specific questions.
"It doesn't surprise me that accusations like this come at the IGs . . . ," he said. "They are a good target for retributions. I believe their integrity, however, is very much intact."
In a statement, Agriculture Secretary John R. Block praised Graziano as an effective administrator, and said "there has been nothing found to be improper in Graziano's conduct or hiring practices."
But investigators said Graziano violated prohibited personnel practices last summer when he helped a Kansas City woman, who described herself as his girlfriend, obtain a job interview for a stenographer position five days before USDA announced the job opening.
Graziano denied having had a relationship with the woman, but the report said "the weight of the evidence . . . support s the conclusions that Graziano once had a personal relationship" with her. Despite Graziano's help, the woman was not hired, a fact which the investigators said "lessened the seriousness of the offense."
The report said the seriousness of Graziano's conduct "varies across a range from prohibited personnel practices to lapses of judgment . . . ." But, the report said, the four examples it cited had one thing in common: "The circumstances . . . suggest that the job-related qualifications of the various women . . . may not have been the only concern motivating Mr. Graziano in his approaches to them."
Investigators said Graziano, who has been a government investigator for 32 years, approached several women at a retirement party last February in Hyattsville and discussed jobs and promotions with them. He later contacted several of the women individually and invited them for drinks, the report said. It said one woman described his conversation as having "solicitous overtones."
"We suggest that collectively Graziano's actions represent a pattern of activity which is most disconcerting on the part of Graziano, who . . . is charged . . . with prime responsibility for proper exercise of personnel management functions," the report said.
Only one of the women approached at the party was hired by USDA, investigators said. She did not receive the job that she said Graziano had discussed with her.
Sources said William O'Connor, special counsel for the Merit Systems Protection Board, and several congressional subcommittees have requested copies of the report.