Vice President Bush yesterday announced that Craig L. Fuller, a top White House official who served as assistant to the president for Cabinet affairs in President Reagan's first term, has been appointed his new chief of staff.

Fuller, 33, replaces retired admiral Daniel J. Murphy, who is to leave Bush's office April 1. Murphy has "no specific plans," a spokesman said, but will serve for a while as a consultant to Bush's office.

The Fuller appointment was described by administration officials and others yesterday as a signal that Bush intends to play a more prominent role in policy in Reagan's second term before running for the 1988 GOP nomination.

Former White House lobbyist Kenneth M. Duberstein, who worked closely with Fuller during Reagan's first term, said the appointment indicates that Bush is assembling a policy-oriented "governing team" that would work more closely with the White House than he has in the past.

Bush has been consulting several outside political advisers, including former New Jersey senator Nicholas Brady (R), about a possible 1988 presidential bid.

Fuller said yesterday he anticipates other changes in the Bush staff, including the recruitment of a press secretary to replace Peter Teeley, who has resigned effective at the end of this month.

Fuller also said he was taking the job with the "blessing" of deputy White House chief of staff Michael K. Deaver. Before joining the White House, Fuller was a vice president of Deaver & Hannaford Inc., a public relations firm owned by Deaver and Peter Hannaford.

There had been speculation that Deaver and Fuller would form a public relations and lobbying firm this spring.