Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) said yesterday that the Small Business Administration appears to be slipping in its service to Vietnam veterans.

Kerry, who won a Silver Star in Vietnam, said a survey by his staff showed that some SBA regional offices were unfamiliar with special programs the agency offers veterans trying to start their own businesses.

Rockefeller told a Senate Small Business Committee hearing on SBA veterans' programs that he, too, fears the agency may be backsliding.

Since 1980, SBA regulations have required veterans to be given "special consideration," such as priority processing of loan applications. In addition, the agency operates a special loan fund for veterans.

The telephone survey found that while some SBA offices knew of veterans' programs, 25 percent denied there was any special help for veterans and 12 percent were unaware of the programs, Kerry said. Over 40 percent of SBA offices denied there was a special loan program for veterans and 44 percent did not know of a special brochure outlining veterans' programs, he added.

Marshall J. Parker, the SBA's associate deputy administrator for special programs, defended the agency's record of help to veterans, but he said the survey may have uncovered some communications problems at district offices.