Back in the administration of D.C. Mayor Walter E. Washington, which ended early in 1979, the city government issued an internal telephone directory in loose-leaf notebook form. The format was intended to permit the issuance of frequent corrections and updates.

No corrections or updates ever were issued. A year ago, Metro Scene took note of the situation and was told by the mayor's press office that "we'll have a new one soon."

One might quibble over how one defines "soon," but -- wonder of wonders! -- a new directory, the first edition in Mayor Marion Barry's six-year-old administration, has been issued and distributed by something called the Communication Division of the Information Resource Management Administration in the newly created D.C. Department of Administrative Services. A mouthful!

Unfortunately for the general public, the books are not available outside the District government, except for congressional committees, some federal government agencies and the news media that must deal regularly with a variety of city offices. But citizens will benefit indirectly from the new directory: if you call a wrong number or office, the person who answers the phone will more likely be able to refer you to the right one.

Robert G.M. Storey, a top official of the Administrative Services Department, said its director, Jose Gutierrez, made preparation of the new directory a top priority when he took over last year. Storey said it is bound to contain some errors, and promised periodic updated editions.