The Clinton administration, trying to save affirmative action programs in the face of a severe Supreme Court ruling, confirmed Tuesday it will announce new rules this week for awarding billions of dollars in government contracts to companies run by women, minorities or "disadvantaged" owners.

Rather than giving minority-owned firms a broad right to special advantages, the new rules require the government to survey 80 individual industries and offer affirmative action programs only in industries where minority groups are proven to be underrepresented.In some industries, the rules could severely limit the preferences given to businesses based on the race or gender of their owners. They could also end 22 months of confusion surrounding the process for awarding federal contracts, valued at $200 billion annually.

Federal contracting officials have operated amid uncertainty since June 1995, when the Supreme Court put a range of affirmative action programs in doubt by ruling that they must be "narrowly tailored" to address identifiable past discrimination.

That ruling prompted the Defense Department to suspend the government's only major "set-aside program," in which contracts are reserved solely for small or disadvantaged businesses. It pushed the administration to broaden its special-preference programs to include companies run by "socially disadvantaged" white owners.

The ruling also made some federal procurement officials wary of using affirmative action programs that remained legal, at least in the Clinton administration's view, even after the Supreme Court ruling.

The U.S. Marshals Service, for example, last year awarded only a single contract under the largest federal program meant to benefit disadvantaged businesses. The contract amounted to 0.2 percent of Marshals Service procurement expenses for 1996, compared to 3.2 percent for the government as a whole.

"A lot of procurement officials are hesitant to use programs that are legal," said Joseph K. Bryan, who oversees the Justice Department's programs for disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses. He said federal agencies often are "ignorant" of what the Supreme Court decision meant and fear being sued by companies that have lost contracts to winners that benefited from affirmative action rules.

But some minority groups have already said they fear the new rules.

The fraction of government dollars going to minority-owned businesses has "dropped drastically since 1989," said Samuel A. Carradine Jr., executive director of the National Association of Minority Contractors.