With the departure of Labor Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole last month, the much touted "glass-ceiling initiative" appears to be on hold.

Labor Department sources said the new anti-discrimination program, designed to break down the invisible barrier barring women and minorities from the ranks of top management, has been sidetracked until a new secretary is named and confirmed, most likely in February.

"It doesn't make much sense to go ahead and announce a major new program like this until the new secretary has had a chance to review it," a department source said.

But Cari M. Dominguez, director of the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said the initiative was not on hold. "We're moving as planned and everything's on track, except in terms of completing the compliance review," Dominguez said. "It's just been delayed because of scheduling conflicts and some other types of delays."

She acknowledged that a special study of boardroom hiring practices of eight major corporations would not be ready until late January.

The study was intended to help her office develop a methodology for detecting bias in the boardroom. The Labor Department has not identified the eight companies being studied.

The major thrust of the new initiative, announced by Dole last summer, will be to assure that women and minorities receive the same training and career advancement opportunities as men before being considered for promotion.

Dominguez said she understood the department to be committed to the new initiative. "Hopefully it doesn't have to pass muster with the new secretary," she said.