The White House announced yesterday that President Reagan intends to nominate Donald Alden Hicks to be undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering. Hicks, who has worked with the Northrop Corp. since 1963, would succeed Richard D. DeLauer, who resigned in November.

Hicks, who lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., is currently the senior vice president of Northrop. He previously worked for Boeing Co. and as a research physicist with Lawrence Radiation Laboratories.

The General Accounting Office says the Energy Department is improperly trying to abolish the Residential Conservation Service (RCS), a program under which utilities are required to give customers energy-conservation information and conduct inspections to help them save energy.

In March, DOE drew up a legal memorandum saying that, because the law creating the program did not include an expiration date, it should be considered temporary.

But in a June 3 report, the GAO said DOE's argument is legally unprecedented.

"There is agreement among the standard legal authorities that it is a basic characteristic of our system of law that a statute, unless it explicitly provides to the contrary, continues in force indefinitely until duly altered or repealed by subsequent action of the lawmaking authority," the GAO said.

In a joint letter to Energy Secretary John S. Herrington, Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) said the GAO report "leaves little doubt about DOE's ongoing legal duties under the RCS statute and the continuing obligation of covered utilities to provide RCS services . . . ."

David H. Moulton, a Markey aide, said the two House members plan to ask the House Appropriations Committee to provide funds for the program in the fiscal 1986 budget.

William K. Woodard, DOE's program manager for the RCS, said, "We have the GAO report under assessment."

DOE was supposed to respond by June 15 to the members but has asked for several more weeks, Moulton said.