WE'VE HEARD MANY complaints over the years about the shabby treatment Mayor Washington's office has been known to give telephone callers and letter writers. It doesn't seem to matter whether the attempts at communication involve criticism, compliments, queries or invitations - the ackowledgements from the executive branch appear to be equally democratically distributed. One of he worst recent results of such executive inattention was reported the other day by Post staff writer Lawrence Feinberg.

It seems that a federal offer to help resuscitate the city government's all-but-dead college loan program was going unanswered at city hall. Meanwhile, about 1,500 students seeking loans were without the money for the current spring term. Last summer, banks that had been making loans under the city program stopped doing so when defaults topped $2 million and the city government was failing to honor its guarantly agreement to cover them. At that time, officials in charge of a federal direct guaranty program tried to contact the director of the city department in charge of the local student loans office, who was - ah, yes - Joseph P. Yeldell, director of the Department of Human Resources.

Moving along smartly to last month, the situation reached a point where the federal officials gave up trying to reach Mr. Yeldell's office. Their next try was a letter from the U.S. Office of Education to Mayor Washington. The letter made the offer of federal guarantees. But three weeks later, there still was no acknowledgement of the offer. "Whenever we call, a secretary says they're in meetings," said Kenneth Kohl, director of the federal office of guarnateed student loans, "or we leave messages and we don't get hold of them."

Fortunately, the newspaper account of this bureaucratic negligence did provoke a response from acting DHR director Albert P. Russo who promptly requested and got a meeting with federal officials this week. They worked out an agreement for a loan guaranty program that should bring relief to the next group of strapped students who seek aid. Moreover, attempts will be made to interest a larger number of local financial institutions in participating in the loan program.There was just one other big "if" at week's end: The federal office needed a letter from a mayor formally requesting the federal program. It isn't too much to suggest that the favor of a reply is in order.