It wasn't the idea of the security check that anybody minded. Such things are commonplace in Washington.

But what set his N Street neighbors in Georgetown buzzing this week was the target of the State Department's latest job security inquiry - W. Averell Harriman, former under secretary of state, former ambassador to the Soviet Union, former ambassador to the Court of St. James's former secretary of commerce, fomer ambassador at-large.

"How could they send someone around asking if Averell had a drinking problem ...or whether he had a happy marriage?" exclaimed one N Street ally of Harriman.

Columnist Art Buchwaid who was among those contacted by State Department security officer Henry Bishop, commented:

"What are you supposed to say? 'Ah yes, I believe he knew Stalin well.'"

Bishop insisted that he was not at liberty to explain why he was checking on the 86-year-old statesman.

"Deep, deep, deep background?" insisted another State Department source, this one unidentified. "Harriman has been proposed for the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Special Session on Disarmament ... The problem with the publicity is that Harriman hasn't been approved by the White House yet."

"I do think it's quite funny, actually," said Pamela (Mrs. Averell) Harriman. "But it is sort of silly for something that only lasts five weeks."

"You must understand," said the unidentified source at the State Department, "this will be a presidential appointment. And anyone who is up for one of those would have to go through a security check.

"Even Jerry Ford."