David B. Sentelle, a U.S. district court judge in North Carolina, has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. An item Tuesday incorrectly reported that he had been nominated to a North Carolina circuit court. (Published 6/25/87)

The Department of Education has issued a mild reprimand to Assistant Secretary Madeleine Will in response to an internal inspector general's report indicating Will allowed a former assistant to be paid for nearly four months after leaving her job.

Department Chief of Staff William Kristol, in the same letter, asks Will to repay the government for travel expenses she improperly claimed and for the use of an official car for personal business. The general's report, obtained by The Washington Post, quotes Will as saying that the expense vouchers were prepared by an aide and that she did not recall such use of a government car. She declined to comment.

Education Department officials said the reimbursement from Will would amount to a few hundred dollars at most.

"It is unfortunate that your office was not more attentive to the management procedures that assure the appropriate expenditure of federal funds," Kristol wrote Will.

Will repaid $12,022 but denied wrongdoing in connection with charges that she approved salary extensions for the former assistant.Dueling Nominations . . .

Supporters of the embattled ambassador-designate to Mozambique, Melissa F. Wells, think they have found a point of leverage over Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), who has been holding up approval of her nomination for several months.

Helms believes Wells is too sympathetic to the Marxist Mozambican government, which the Reagan administration supports, and too hostile to self-described anticommunist rebels fighting to overthrow it.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) has let it be known inside the Judicary Committee that he is ready to play "tit-for-tat" with Helms over his own nominee, David B. Sentelle, for a judgeship to North Carolina's fourth circuit court.

With this threat to Helms' nominee in hand, Senate supporters of Wells believe they may finally get a vote on her nomination on the floor this week, but they have been wrong before.

During the last attempt May 1, Helms mobilized 28 votes against bringing up Wells' nomination and then threatened a filibuster to prevent a vote. Since that time, Helms has kept the nomination on ice.

Last week, Helms offered the State Department a deal. In a June 19 letter to Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead, the senator said he would drop his opposition to Wells "if you will send me a one-word response -- YES."

The "yes" Helms wants to hear: that the department will allow Wells to meet with the Mozambican National Resistance Movement (RENAMO), the rebel group fighting the Marxist central government, in her capacity as U.S. ambassador to that government. Odd Man Out . . .

Nuclear Regulatory Commission member James K. Asselstine, the perpetual naysayer on the Reagan administration's panel, completes his six-year term at the end of this month, and it was no great surprise to anyone that the White House passed up the chance to retain a man who almost always votes against them.

But Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.), chairman of the Interior and Insular Affairs investigative subcommittee, didn't want the maverick commissioner to feel unnoticed or unappreciated. At the end of Asselstine's testimony before the subcommittee recently -- in which he spent his time, as usual, gently contradicting his colleagues -- Gejdenson hauled out a standard Washington memento: The personalized t-shirt.

The front was emblazoned: HE CAME HE SAW

And on the back, in 8-inch-high numerals, was the vote by which the NRC decided the bulk of its cases in the last six years: