THE administration has done the right thing in the controversies involving Emanuel S. Savas and Charles Z. Wick. On Thursday Mr. Savas resigned as assistant secretary of housing and urban development after being given the choice by Secretary Samuel Pierce of resigning or being "fired by 5 p.m." Mr. Savas had ordered several HUD employees to type and proofread his privately published book entitled--get this-- "Privatizing the Public Sector--How to Shrink Government."
Secretary Pierce got it exactly right when he said that Mr. Savas' use of public employees for private purposes was "an abuse of office." Mr. Savas' defense was that the allegations about the book were "frivolous" and that everyone does it anyway. Mr. Pierce was not impressed.
The mistake made by United States Information Agency Director Charles Z. Wick was much milder, and he corrected it himself. Mr. Wick caused a $31,700 security system to be built for the house he rents in Northwest Washington. His subordinates told him the government should pay, because he might take home classified material, he has been attacked in the Soviet press and he is a personal friend of the president. Wisely, Mr. Wick also consulted White House Counsel Fred Fielding. Mr. Fielding said, correctly, that such expenditures "raise very serious questions of propriety and appearance." When Mr. Wick offered to repay just $8,300, Mr. Fielding replied that "additional reimbursement would be prudent" and would prevent "considerable embarrassment to you and the president." Now Mr. Wick has agreed to pay $22,053, leaving the government to pay $6,000 for the minimum security system that Mr. Fielding says is proper and $3,660 in maintenance charges. It's the least he could do.