After 17 months, the nomination of Francis M. (Bud) Mullen Jr. to head the Drug Enforcement Administration is still in limbo, his confirmation hearing postponed repeatedly by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

Mullen's problems with Hatch date back to his testimony in January, 1981, at a Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee hearing into alleged links between organized crime figures and Raymond J. Donovan, then the nominee for labor secretary. Hatch is chairman of the committee.

In his testimony, Mullen, a former top-level FBI official, neglected to mention a wiretap in New York that had picked up mobster William Masselli mentioning a social contact with Donovan. Mullen later apologized for the omission.

Hatch now is holding up Mullen's confirmation for other reasons, including what he calls new evidence on a 1977 home mortgage loan Mullen received from a man who was later convicted of embezzlement. Justice Department sources say the department conducted an internal investigation of the circumstances of the loan and Mullen was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Hatch has complained that the FBI did not provide information he requested on the matter. FBI sources contended that they provided everything Hatch asked for, and said that Hatch simply neglected to go through the materials they collected for him.

Justice sources have said that both the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee have lost patience with Hatch's foot-dragging on the nomination.

Because of the long delays, Mullen's nomination was returned to the White House when he failed to gain Senate approval before the summer recess. But Justice Department sources say that they believe his name will be resubmitted when Congress returns, and that the White House will continue to press for his confirmation. * * *

CRIME FIGHTERS. . . .Justice is joining with the National Urban League to develop community anti-crime programs in at least seven cities.Directed by the department's Community Relations Service, the effort will be aimed at reducing crime in minority communities.

The major responsibility of the Community Relations Service is to conciliate and mediate disputes and incidents related to race discrimination. One of its priorities has been to promote cooperation between minority citizens and urban police forces.

Gilbert G. Pompa, who heads the Community Relations Service, and Urban League President John E. Jacob have announced that the first project cities will be Houston, Indianapolis, New Haven, Omaha, Portland, Ore., St. Louis and San Francisco.

MISSING CHILDREN. . . The department is setting up a nationwide system to trace missing or kidnaped children, to track "serial murders" and to look into links between child abuse and juvenile delinquency.

Alfred S. Regnery, head of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, said that as many as 5,000 people--half of them children--are murdered each year by sex offenders or child abusers. He said there is no national center to coordinate reports of missing children and compare them with murder reports.

The Sam Houston State University Criminal Justice Center in Huntsville, Tex., has been given a $136,000 grant to study how to improve the justice system as it relates not only to missing and murdered children, but also to child pornography, runaway children and various child abuses.

NAMES AND FACES. . . James M. Sullivan, who served as a staff aide to Sen. John P. East (R-N.C.) on the Judiciary Committee, has been named the new legislative liaison for the Civil Rights Division . . . Richard Bender Abell, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former world-wide coordinator of programming and training for the Peace Corps, has been named a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Justice Assistance, Research and Statistics.