Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), pointing to the Iran-contra affair as the latest illustration of the need to conduct independent audits of the Central Intelligence Agency, has drawn up legislation that would give the comptroller general clear-cut authority to monitor CIA spending.

The CIA is the only government agency that contests the authority of the comptroller general, who heads the General Accounting Office, to audit its activities, Glenn said in prepared remarks.

Glenn, chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said he recognized that the CIA has an inspector general who is supposed to ensure "that the agency remains true to its mission, obeys the law and accounts appropriately for its funds," but said he does not think that is sufficient.

"The Iran-contra mess is proof . . . that we cannot be content with internal reviews alone," Glenn said. "It is simply a fact that self-audit is justifiably subject to suspicion and distrust. To expedite such independent reviews, Congress established the GAO."

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced in May that it was hiring two or three auditors and they would for the first time be conducting spot checks of covert operations. Sources said that step came only after Glenn began pressing to give such authority to GAO, an investigative arm of Congress.

"They {the Senate and House intelligence committees} are going to resist this bill," one congressional aide predicted yesterday. "They want to call the tune themselves. They see the CIA as their area, and they don't want to have anybody else in that area."

Glenn has attempted in his proposed bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, to assuage the oversight panels by providing that the results of any GAO-initiated audit of the CIA would be submitted only to the two intelligence committees and to the director of central intelligence.

Any congressional request for a GAO audit of the agency, moreover, could be made only by the chairman or ranking member of the House or Senate intelligence committees, Glenn said.

The committees, however, are expected to resist the key provision in Glenn's bill -- authority for the comptroller general to audit CIA financial transactions and to "evaluate the programs and activities" of the agency without waiting for congressional requests.

In an appearance before Glenn's committee last February, Comptroller General Charles O. Bowsher said the CIA was the last major obstacle to GAO efforts to step up its audits of sensitive intelligence operations and highly secret weapons and military projects, commonly called "black programs."

The National Security Agency and the military services have allowed GAO auditors with top-secret clearances to review many of their activities, But the CIA, Bowsher said, always refused, contending that the intelligence committees have sole oversight authority over the agency. When GAO asked the intelligence panels whether they wanted GAO assistance, Bowsher said, "The answer was no."

Glenn praised the Senate intelligence panel for deciding to hire auditors but said there also is a need to have GAO available.

Glenn said his bill suggests several major ways to protect CIA secrecy, including the maintenance of work papers at CIA-controlled locations and a provision allowing the president to exempt any CIA officer or agent from GAO access.