On Friday, Andrew C. "Skip" Hove Jr. marked one year as acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

No one at the agency celebrated the milestone.

In fact, Aug. 20 was a day of mourning for many - the one-year anniversary of Chairman William Taylor's unexpected death. That's when Mr. Hove, 59, stepped up to the chairman's job from vice chairman.

Friday also was a frustrating reminder of how long the FDIC has been without a full-fledged chairman. "I had no idea it would be this long," Mr. Hove said.

He said the thought of quitling had crossed his mind but he has assured the White House he will stay on until the Senate approves another chairman.

The FDIC has chairmen in its 60-year history, but none for as long as a year. The one with the longest run - John Heimann in 1978 - served six months and 21 days.

The Bush Delay

The first five months of delay in naming a chairman was understandable. President Bush did not nominate someone when Mr. Taylor died because the presidential election was looming and he knew a Democratic Senate would not approve a Republican President's pick.

Because Bill Clinton had a shot at unseating Mr. Bush, the Democrats were not about to fill political posts with Republicans.

Mr. Bush's loss added another couple of months to the wait because Mr. Clinton did not become President until late January.

Why no one has been selected in the past seven months, however, is a mystery.

Clinton's Turn

On his first day in office, Mr. Clinton named a comptroller of the currency - Washington lawyer Eugene A. Ludwig. Everyone figured a permanent FDIC chairman would be picked quickly, but Mr. Clinton apparently cannot find one who suits him.

That's not for a lack of candidates, however.

At least 15 people have been rumored as potential heads of the agency: Arkansas bankers Bill Bowen and Bill Brandon; Washington lawyers Jerry Hawke, Chuck Muckenfuss, and Ricki Tigert; Banc One executives Karen Horn and Ann Hall; New Hampshire lobbyist Chris Gailagher; New York regulator Derrick Ceaphas; former Connecticut State Treasurer Frank Borges; regulator-turned-banker Larry Connell; Texas lawyer Jeff Hurt; Washington analyst Karen Shaw; former money-center banker Tom Johnson, and Boston Fed President Dick Syron.

It's not as if no attention has been given the FDIC by the White House, either. President Clinton himself announced in May that he intended to nominate Mr. Gallagher.

He did not - and everyone who ever had a bad thought about Mr. Gallagher has aired it, dimming his chances.

There have been many other false starts. So many, in fact, that plenty of people have quit speculating.

Ludwig Criticized

As the only Clinton bank regulator, Mr. Ludwig is being criticized quietly for not getting the White House to fill the other regulatory posts.

In addition to FDIC, the Office of Thrift Supervision has had an acting director - Jonathan Fiechter - since Dec. 4, when Tim Ryan resigned.

If Mr. Clinton does not nominate new bank regulators soon, Mr. Hove and Mr. Fiechter could remain in their jobs until 1994.

Congress will need time to hold hearings and confirm the nominees, but lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn in early October.

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