Champion May Be Named To Head Social Security

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Hale Champion, Harvard's financial vice president until his appointment last year as undersecretary of the department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW), will probably be the next commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), a congressional staffer close to HEW officials said yesterday.

"Hale is the one they're talking about," another Congressional aide on the House Security subcomittee staff said yesterday. The aide could not confirm when the appointment would be made official.

Champion and Don I. Wortman, the current commissioner of the SSA, were unavailable for comment today.

If Champion is nominated as commissioner, the Senate will have to confirm the appointment. Such appointments are made jointly by President Carter and Joseph Califano, secretary of HEW.

While Champion's appointment is "very likely" the staffer said, the possibility exists that Champion's name is being "floated" to see whether opposition to his appointment exists.

Obstacles to his appointment will probably not arise because Champion is "an insider" at HEW, the staffer added.

The name of Sanford G. Ross, the current chairman of the Social Security Advisory Council, is also being floated as Champion's replacement as undersecretary of HEW.

The SSA is one of the most important divisions within HEW, with a staff of hundreds of thousands. The administration manages the Social Security Benefits Program, which distributes the monthly checks which are sent to cover 33 million people.

The staffer said Champion's "proven managerial skills and his political expertise" would well equip him for the job.