President Bush has selected John Frohnmayer, a lawyer and former chairman of the Oregon Arts Commission, to head the National Endowment for the Arts, administration officials said.

Frohnmayer, 47, who has cleared the necessary background checks but awaits formal nomination, would succeed Frank Hodsoll, who left the job in February to become chief financial officer of the administration's Office of Management and Budget. The nomination to the arts post requires Senate confirmation.Frohnmayer, brother of Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer, told the Oregonian newspaper in Portland that he had not been notified of his selection but would be "extremely flattered if this is indeed true."

"Clearly, the job is very significant in terms of arts policy and the promotion of arts throughout the country," he said. "I would welcome the job if selected."

Frohnmayer has worked for years in Oregon arts organizations and was chairman of the Oregon Arts Commission from 1980 to 1984. He was a candidate to become head of the national agency eight years ago when the job went to Hodsoll.

The endowment dispenses about $170 million a year in grants to groups and artists around the country. It was criticized by conservatives last month for its support of an exhibition by the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe that included homoerotic images.