President Reagan has told his staff that he does not intend to abolish the Council of Economic Advisers, a White House official said yesterday.
The chairmanship of the three-member council has been vacant since Martin S. Feldstein resigned last summer.
In an interview with the conservative weekly Human Events last month, the president raised the possibility that he might abolish the council. Officials said at the time that the council's role was being examined as part of a larger reorganization study and that one option would be to merge it into another department, such as Commerce or Treasury.
The council publishes an annual report when the president's budget is sent to Congress. And the chairman customarily has appeared before congressional committees in February to explain and defend administration economic policy. This apparently has created an impetus to appoint a new chairman soon.
Also, another member of the economic panel, William Poole, is about to return to teaching at Boston University. The remaining member, William A. Niskanen, has said he intends to resign if not appointed chairman. Niskanen has been acting as the council's senior member since Feldstein resigned but has not been appointed acting chairman.
A leading candidate for the chairmanship is Beryl Sprinkel, under secretary of the Treasury for monetary affairs, according to knowledgeable sources.
Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan, the incoming White House chief of staff, is said to favor appointing Sprinkel. It could not be learned whether the president has reached a decision on who will head the council.
Regan often was at odds with Feldstein over the federal deficit and interest rates. But Regan's dispute appeared to be with Feldstein, not the council.
Asked last week about the council's future, Regan said he would talk to the president about it but did not indicate what his advice would be.