THE people slowly populating the Bush administration are a diverse group for a Republican administration. The White House's best claims to diversity are for appointing women to top policy positions.
Of the 303 selections requiring Senate confirmation that President Bush made in his first six months, 62 - or 20 percent - were women, says presidential personnel chief Chase Untermeyer.
This figure bests the number of women Ronald Reagan appointed to such posts in any year. It is also closing in on Jimmy Carter's highest year - 72 in 1980 - which Mr. Untermeyer presumes was the highest number in history.
Experts on presidential staffing say that this administration gives as much attention to appointing people who are not white males as the early Reagan administration gave to screening for Reagan-style conservatism.
``That's one of the slowdowns,'' says G. Calvin Mackenzie of Colby College, referring to the painstaking pace of Bush's appointments.
One way of reading the Senate Judiciary Committee's rejection of William Lucas for assistant attorney general for civil rights is that Bush had pushed racial inclusiveness past the point of competence. Mr. Lucas is black, and while some senators opposed him for his views, others claimed he lacked legal qualifications for the job.
Republican presidents since Eisenhower have had more trouble appointing blacks than women because black Republicans are rare.
While women and ethnic minorities are typically sought out for highly visible government positions, more lower-level appointments are appearing. Margaret Wyszomirski, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a close observer of presidential appointments, notes ``more women's names below the senior staff level than I am used to seeing.''
Likewise, at meetings of new appointees, she sees more blacks, Hispanics, and women at the lower levels of appointments. These become the pool Bush and future presidents will draw their leaders from, she says. ``It certainly looks a lot less white male than previous groups,'' she says.
Are the Bush people less conservative than the Reagan ranks? The Heritage Foundation's Louis Cordia, who tracks and promotes conservatives for policy posts, believes this administration is as conservative as Reagan's was at any time.
Bush's cabinet is not much more integrated than Reagan's, except that Bush has two Hispanic cabinet secretaries, Lauro Cavazos at the Department of Education and Manuel Lujan at the Interior Department.
But Bush has wedged the door open a little further to his inner sanctum. The 15 assistants to the President include one black man, legislative liaison Frederick McClure, and one woman, White House operations chief J. Bonnie Newman.
Dr. Wyszomirski can recall no other White House that had more than one senior staff aide who was not white and male.