You can stop wondering why the Reagan administration includes so few women in important positions. The Associated Press has come forward with the explanation. In case you missed the report, here it is:

During the election campaign, supporters of candidate Ronald Reagan set about assembling the names and personnel files of women who might qualify for top jobs in his administration. But, according to the Associated Press, the compilation never found its way to the White House.

"On Inauguration Day, the files were packed in boxes at the Reagan transition office -- several blocks from the White House -- destined for the office of White House personnel director E. Pendleton James," the AP reported.

"On Inauguration Day, the files disappeared.

"For more than a month, while James and his assistants embarked on a nationwide talent hunt, the resumes and recommendations of more than 400 of the Republican Party's most promising women candidates weren't even missed."

The AP report went on to say that the goof, undiscovered until after the key presidential appointments had been made, accounts for the disappointingly low number of women in the new administration.

It isn't much of an explanation, but it's all we've got. It does occur to me that it is unlikely that the only boxes lost in transit were the ones containing the names of female candidates for high office.

The question is: What was in the other boxes? The White House won't say -- perhaps it doesn't know -- but they can't stop up from speculating.

It's a virtual certainty that the names and files on potential black appointees must have been mislaid, and it seems a reasonable guess that the missing documents also include the list of environmentally responsible candidates for secretary of the interior.

The moving-day losses may well have included the official organization chart showing where the secretary of state ranks in presidential succession. It may have been in the same box as the FBI background report on CIA spy chief Max Hugel and the bundle of letters (stamped "eyes only") from Ernest Lefever's brothers.

Surely the missing papers must contain the details of the Reagan administration's foreign policy.

Somewhere in the moving company's warehouse must the the names and Social Security numbers of the "truly needy" who were to be spared from the administration's budget cuts.

Other possible losses-in-transition are:

The list of private-sector jobs to facilitate the transition from welfare to "workfare";

Data proving that racism no longer exists in America and, therefore, that affirmative action is no longer needed;

Plans for regentrifying the South Bronx;

The detailed proposals for putting the Social Security system on a sound footing.

The agreement listing the limitations on the use of the F16 fighter jets sold to Israel.

Reagan's invitation to the 1980 NAACP convention.

The "white paper" explaining how lifting the grain embargo is vital to the new tough-line Soviet policy.

The step-by-step plans for dismantling the Departments of Energy and Education.

A collection of La Leche League tracts on the advantages of breast-feeding in the Third World.

The merest glance at the Reagan Cabinet is enough to convince me that the lost boxes must include the administration's copies of one-time best-seller, "Why Not the Best?"

The Associated Press deserves congratulations for having discovered the fact that a number of potentially promising documents never made it to the White House.

But if the venerable wire service wants the undying gratitude of a troubled nation, it will not be content merely to report the loss. It will unleash an army of reporters to find those missing boxes.