Under pressure from numerous federal investigations of the D.C. government, Mayor Marion Barry focused his attention yesterday on the regular business of governing, announcing a major housing department reorganization and deflecting questions about the probes and a controversial TV interview given by his wife.

Barry, speaking at his monthly news conference, unveiled the long-expected plan to separate the public housing authority from the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development and vowed to make public housing in the District "a model for the nation."

"Every administration must have . . . a vision for the future," Barry said in an almost campaign-like presentation at the department's headquarters on North Capitol Street.

It was the mayor's first major public appearance after a week in which his wife Effi held him to account for his "indiscretion" in relationships with other women; the FBI seized records related to a probe of alleged D.C. police corruption; some of his senior aides criticized his handling of his office, and news accounts raised questions about spending from his official ceremonial fund.

The housing issue -- including a 30-minute slide show -- took all but a few minutes of the session with reporters, who attempted unsuccessfully to raise questions on several other matters. Barry responded to those questions with a recitation of his achievements in nine years as mayor. {Partial transcript of Barry's news conference, Page A9.}

In turning his attention to housing, Barry, who has previously acknowledged that problems of public housing result from a lack of aggressive management, sought to regain the initiative on an issue that dogged him in his reelection campaign last year.

The reorganization, which has been in the planning stages since 1986, would establish a D.C. Department of Public and Assisted Housing to operate the city's 11,800 public housing units and two major housing subsidy programs, the federal Section 8 program and the city's Tenant Assistance Program. Currently those operations have a $101 million annual budget and are run by a staff of 1,072.

The Department of Housing and Community Development, which will retain 300 employes and concentrate on community development programs such as housing creation and home ownership, will be forced to seek new quarters.

The plan must go before the D.C. Council for approval. A spokesman for council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), chairman of the housing committee, said she supports the reorganization and expects the council will back the plan.

One of the key elements of the new structure is greater emphasis on the needs of tenants. A client services administration within the new agency would be created to provide a one-stop center to consolidate the application process for residents seeking subsidized housing.

In addition, the public housing agency would establish an office of fair hearings to handle residents' complaints and grievances. The creation of the office is, in part, a response to last month's ruling by U.S. District Judge Barrington D. Parker, who found that the city had violated public housing tenants' rights to adequate grievance procedures. Based on the complaints of six plaintiffs, the judge agreed that more than 61 percent of tenant complaints received no response from the city.

Alphonso Jackson, acting director for public housing and Barry's nominee to head the new department, said at the news conference that the new agency will conduct internal audits to ensure compliance with federal and District laws rather than relying solely on federal audits, as has been done in the past.

Jackson also said improved maintenance will be a major goal. Residents are being encouraged to play a role in maintaining the properties through a weekend program in which senior housing officials join tenants to clean a designated complex, he said. Barry said he plans to participate in the program later this month.

Barry and Jackson acknowledged, however, that progress in improving housing conditions depends in part on the availability of funds for Barry's proposed five-year comprehensive modernization plan to repair 60 percent of the city's public housing units. Barry has requested $180 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund the plan.