A firm headed by a member of a black Republican advisory council, which was assembled by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. to drum up support for the Reagan admini- stration, is about to receive a $200,000 HUD contract over the strong objections of senior agency officials.
The Match Institution, a Washington consulting firm, went outside normal contracting channels by giving its unsolicited proposal directly to Pierce, who passed it on to the HUD research office. That office initially rejected the proposal, but later was persuaded by Pierce's office to approve the noncompetitive award.
At least five HUD officials complained in writing that the original proposal was "second-rate," "vague and undefined" and that "there is no reason to believe that . . . Match is uniquely qualified to do this work."
Match initially sought $1.2 million from HUD to design and evaluate a demonstration program for training young tenants in public housing projects to do maintenance and repair work. HUD officials recently scaled back the initial plan to $200,000 and agreed to seek another $10 million from the Labor Department to train 2,500 youths at 20 housing sites selected by Match.
Match Chairman Timothy L. Jenkins was among 40 black Republican leaders handpicked by Pierce last November to improve communications between the administration and the black community.
Pierce set up private meetings with all but two Cabinet members, and said afterward that top officials in each agency would consult with the group on political appointments and contracts for minority firms.
Jenkins said that the award has nothing to do with his private political activities. He said he wrote the proposal after Pierce told the Republican group that he wanted to launch an initiative to reduce youth unemployment.
"I'm shocked by suggestions that somehow my activities with HUD are politically inspired," Jenkins said. "I've been doing unsolicited proposals for the past 15 years and I pick up my tips any way I can."
Acting Assistant Secretary Benjamin F. Bobo, who heads the HUD research office, told Pierce's office in an internal memo last January that he had rejected the Match proposal.
But after receiving instructions from a senior Pierce aide, Deputy Undersecretary June Koch, Bobo changed his mind and told his staff to make the award to Match as a minority "set-aside" contract.
Bobo did not respond to repeated requests for comment, and Koch declined comment.
Jenkins said that Match has long experience in housing issues and that his initial proposal has been greatly improved. But he said he has run into bureaucratic resistance from Bobo's Office of Policy Development and Research.
"There is a general resentment that the secretary has some prior- ities that are different than the people in that office ," Jenkins said. "And so they came up with the allegation that somehow this is not being promoted on its merits but as a political ploy. I emphatically reject that."
HUD research official Charles Taylor told Bobo in an internal memo that Match's original plan was "second-rate" and "has only the flimsiest rationale." He also cited a political problem in "having tenants do work normally done by union members."
Bobo explained to Koch in a Jan. 27 memo that he considered the proposal "inappropriate for funding."
"The cost of this project is extraordinary," Bobo wrote, and was enough to "support 560 students at Harvard at a cost of $20,000 a year." He added that many public housing authorities already have cut back their maintenance staffs.
"There is no awareness of public housing's current financial problems and of the problems which trainees would have in finding paying positions . . . ," Bobo wrote. "Match has no housing or housing authority background at all, and their past performance for the department has not been excellent."
On Feb. 4, however, Koch directed Bobo to proceed with the plan, writing: "We want to get moving very quickly, with Timothy Jenkins . . . to design the model."
She added that "we are on a very quick time track" because the plan must be approved by May if it is to be eligible for Labor funding under the new Job Training Partnership Act.
Bobo yielded on Feb. 25, telling Koch that "we have concluded that many of our initial concerns have been answered." Bobo's staff is now rewriting a scaled-down proposal to be awarded to Match.
Jenkins, a Yale Law School graduate who is president of the Council of 100, a black political group, said he has worked on his own time "to get black participation in the Republican Party and to make sure the party doesn't become all white."