President-elect George Bush, determined to "put his own stamp on things," is looking for a new face to replace William Webster as CIA director, a source on the Bush transition team said Friday.
Former Sen. John Tower, R-Texas, still is the front-runner for secretary of defense while Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser in the Ford administration, could assume the same job in the Bush presidency, said the anonymous source. Scowcroft is a native of Utah.Speculation about high-ranking personnel in the new administration came as Bush and his wife, Barbara, spent the first full day of a four-day holiday in Gulf Stream, Fla., at the home of Houston millionaire William S. Farish III.
Bush said the transition effort was going "great" but reiterated previous statements that no personnel decisions would be finalized until he returns to the nation's capital Monday or Tuesday. Asked if he was compiling lists of potential appointees, he replied, "No, no."
While Bush vacationed, his transition aides worked Veterans Day - a federal holiday - preparing to open the transition office on Monday.
Robert Teeter, co-director of the transition with Craig Fuller, chief of staff in the vice president's office, said the two men planned to spend the weekend mulling over procedures for the personnel selection process. They will confer early next week.
"We'll go to him (Bush) on Tuesday or Wednesday when he gets back and give him some recommendations," Teeter said in a telephone interview from his home in Michigan.
Among other things, transition aides must decide how to ensure Bush's appointees meet the government's financial disclosure requirements. C. Boyden Gray, the transition team's attorney, will play "a key role in terms of legal and ethical considerations," said Sheila Tate, team spokeswoman.
Also crucial in the transition is Chase Untermeyer, the personnel director. Untermeyer met Friday with Vice President-elect Dan Quayle. Quayle's office, meanwhile, announced Fred Fielding, President Reagan's former White House counsel, would serve as Quayle's representative at Bush transition headquarters.
A Bush insider said Fuller might be tapped for the chief of staff job at the White House. The contest is between Fuller and retiring New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, and "it could go either way," said the aide, speaking on condition of anoymity.
Teeter and Tate refused to comment on speculation about Bush's possible personnel choices. So far, Bush has named only one Cabinet member: former Treasury Secretary and campaign chairman James A. Baker III as secretary of state.
Teeter said the talk was "speculative," and he could not say when the initial appointments would be made. Bush "will be making announcements as decisions are made . . . We have not established a timeline yet," he said.
Bush, who served as CIA director in 1976, is expected to take a keen interest in filling that job. His desire to look at other people does not necessarily mean he is dissatisfied with Webster's performance, the transition source said. But "the vice president want to put his own stamp on things," he said.
Associates of Webster have said privately that the CIA director is eager to stay on in the post he took over in May 1987. Earlier in the Bush campaign, Webster was told he could keep his job, but since then all he has read in published reports are the names of possible successors, the sources said.
One possible candidate for CIA director is James Lilley, the ambassador to South Korea, whom Bush has known since Lilley was the chief of the CIA station in Beijing, while Bush was U.S. envoy there in the 1970s.
As for Tower, a source said, he is in the running for defense secretary, although the mention of Paul H. O'Neill, chairman and chief executive of Alcoa, is "no accident." Former Rep. Jack Edwards of Alabama has also been mentioned forthe job.
The source said Scowcroft, a member of the commission chaired by Tower that investigated the Iran-Contra arms and money affair, "is the kind of person, with the kind of outlook, that Bush is looking for." Congressional sources, meanwhile, suggested that Scowcroft could go to the CIA, if he is not named to head the NSC.