The independent counsel investigating former housing secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. was given broader jurisdiction yesterday to probe developers who received federal housing grants during the Reagan administration.

The court that supervises the work of independent counsel Arlin M. Adams issued an order authorizing him to scrutinize developers, lobbyists or others who sought and obtained grants from three programs run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1984 to 1988.

Adams was appointed in March to investigate allegations that Pierce and other HUD officials showed political favoritism in awarding lucrative rent subsidies under the Moderate Rehabilitation Program.

The order by the independent counsel panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here also authorizes Adams to investigate allegations of political favoritism in the operation of the Urban Development Action Grant program and the secretary's discretionary fund for technical assistance and special projects.

It also widens the circle of people who may be investigated to include officials of other government agencies "or other persons and entities."

Adams's review of the operation of the two additional programs was sought by Attorney General Dick Thornburgh in a May 25 letter to the independent counsel.

Thornburgh referred to allegations made by former deputy assistant HUD secretary DuBois L. Gilliam that political considerations were a key factor in the awarding of UDAG and discretionary funds.

Gilliam, who is serving an 18-month sentence for corruption, told the House Government Operations employment and housing subcommittee that Pierce had ordered HUD to award grants to politically connected developers.

Pierce, who ran HUD for all eight years of the Reagan administration, has denied any wrongdoing. He also told Congress he did not participate in the day-to-day operation of specific programs.