I read the front-page story "Clerical Workers in Washington Area: Uncle Sam Wants You" {June 8} with a mixture of amusement and anger.

My daughter, now a fourth-year university student, wanted to work for the government this summer. In early January she asked the Office of Personnel Management for the required application form. January and February came and went without her receiving it. I called the employment office at OPM but only got busy signals. Finally, after I tried a different number, a person not related to employment kindly offered to get the form from a distant office and mailed it to my daughter. (Otherwise, he said, it would take forever for her to get it.)

My daughter filled out the form and sent 20 or so copies -- at great expense and effort -- just in time for the March deadline.

April went by with no replies. My daughter and her friends who had also applied to the government worried that they would not get the summer jobs and started contacting private employers and temporary employment agencies. My daughter was interviewed and offered jobs. She accepted one of them.

In early May, government agencies' calls finally began to trickle in. So far about a dozen have inquired about her availability. I have had to reply that she is already committed to a lesser-paying job. All the agencies' personnel representatives had just received her application through OPM.

OPM should stop deploring its problems in recruiting and start getting its act together. Unless federal agencies can learn to cut through the red tape and hurry the selection process, they will have to make do with less-qualified applicants. Recent salary increases are not enough: time is money. CLEMENTINE WHELAN Annandale

The article on the federal government's inability to hire competent clerical workers reminded me of a British rajah complaining about his Indian servants. The obvious reason that the government (or anyone else) can't get and keep good clerical workers is that the working conditions are exploitative and the salary is so pathetically low it is insulting. Do you expect people to live on $13,000 or even $16,000 a year?

Typing, word processing and stenography are skills that must be learned and practiced. This is not knowledge that women are born with -- any more than men are preternaturally gifted with auto repair skills. And you can't expect to go out and hire "displaced homemakers and the handicapped" for these jobs.

I've worked as a secretary for 20 years, and it has been my experience that employers want to get as much work out of their clerical staff as they can for as little money as possible. It has also been my experience that they usually succeed in this. I've seen employers demand unpaid overtime, limit lunch breaks and vacations to their own convenience or whim and require personal services as part of the job description (for example, having their lunch brought to them on a tray!).

When these attitudes change, employers will have competent office staffs. And they will have to pay for them just as they have to pay for everything else. MARY WARD Washington BY KATY KELLY