I applaud your call for public hearings to get the views of inspectors general and whistleblowers on the record {"Watching the Watchdogs," editorial, Sept. 15}.

As vice chairman of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency -- which suggests standards for the inspectors general -- and as IG of the Department of State, I believe that the allegations made by Sen. Sasser's staff must be examined closely and soon.

Closely, because if any of them are true, the public should know this, and the IGs involved should receive whatever criminal or administrative sanctions are appropriate. Of course, if any of the charges are false, misrepresented or grossly exaggerated, the public should know that too.

Soon, because the credibility of inspectors general is crucial. We must be like Caesar's wife; misconduct by even one among us taints the rest. IGs simply cannot be guilty of conduct for which they criticize others -- but neither should staffers on a congressional subcommittee.

I am saddened that The Post accepted as "substantiation" of grave charges a staff report that made no effort to validate its findings and followed no semblance of procedural standards to ensure its integrity. If an IG had issued such a Star Chamber report, based only on unverified allegations, it would be a clear abuse of power and the president should fire him.

What counts, however, is not the report but the truth or falsity of its contents. These should be evaluated fully and openly in an early hearing by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. The public indeed should know whether the IGs are lapdogs, watchdogs -- or pit bulls. SHERMAN M. FUNK Inspector General, U.S. Department of State Washington