The Reagan administration, in a 30-page supplement to its 1986 budget, said that it has produced "substantial progress toward the colorblind society" and that past administrations misinterpreted civil rights laws by giving special treatment to women, blacks and the handicapped.
The "Special Analysis J" is particularly critical of the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which it said promoted gender- and race-conscious hiring when it should have been combating discrimination by ensuring that contractors hired "without regard to race, sex or national origin."
The budget analysis pictures the administration as fighting to correct misinterpretations by restoring civil rights laws to their "original meaning and purpose" of nonpreference for blacks and women.
"Where prior administrations attempted to address the symptoms of . . . barriers to blacks and women by attempting to administratively reinterpret our civil rights laws into demands for special treatment, this administration will enforce the civil rights laws as they were written . . . ," the analysis said.
* Condemns quotas as "making distinction(s) based on race and sex." It said the primary beneficiaries of quotas are not the poor but "the armies of lawyers and administrators whose task is not to increase opportunities for all but to mediate between institutions and the federal government."
* Rejects busing, terming it a practice to "exclude students from educational programs based solely on their race or national origin and . . . serve simply to reassign students from one poor school to another and typically produce significant enrollment losses -- followed by more severe racial isolation than existed before such measures were ordered."
* Says the Civil Rights Act of 1984, which failed to pass Congress, "would have enabled federal agencies, for the first time, to assert regulatory authority over any program or activity of a state or local government, business or nonprofit organization which received federal assistance for any purpose . . . ." The legislation was intended to undo a Supreme Court decision reversing portions of a law that allowed a cutoff of funds to institutions that discriminate, but there was debate about how widely to apply it.
The report is especially critical of the contract compliance office under previous administrations, calling it "chiefly responsible for converting the worthwhile concept of affirmative action in the public mind into a simple euphemism for quotas."
Citing a study done by economist Jonathan S. Leonard, the analysis concluded that companies with government contracts subject to reviews by the office had "significantly retarded growth in . . . white female representation."
According to the Leonard report, the compliance office also focused on contractors least likely to discriminate. It said companies with "above average percentages of blacks and women," rather than companies with few or no women or blacks, were most often targeted as compliance officers sought to meet their goals.
Since 1981, the analysis said, the administration has improved the office by changing its procedures and working to "strengthen the complementary principles of affirmative recruitment and merit selection."
The analysis was released in the middle of a campaign by the president to attract black voters to the Republican party. The White House is seeking to erode the traditional allegiance of blacks to Democratic candidates and to refute criticism that Reagan's presidency has contributed to racial polarization.
In the past month the president and his aides have sought to counter criticism of his civil rights record, called "deplorable" by the National Urban League in a January report that said nine out of 10 blacks voted against Reagan.
The president's aides have argued that Bob Jones University's right to a tax exemption despite discriminatory practices was made into a "racial issue" by the press when it was a "tax issue about the Internal Revenue Service's right to make law when the Congress had not acted." The institution is in Greenville, S.C.