Members and former members of the Reagan Cabinet have received copies of a letter from Dale Van Atta, coauthor of Jack Anderson's syndicated column, asking for their public or private assessments of the vice presidency of George Bush.

The letter, which went to 34 current and former Cabinet members, offers anonymity to those who want to give interesting anecdotes about how Bush has performed during Cabinet meetings. "We are not looking for generalities," Van Atta wrote.

The letter also suggests that a nonresponse would be viewed by Van Atta and Anderson as a negative comment about Bush.

"I caution you that an unwillingness by people like yourself to take a position one way or another may send a negative message about Mr. Bush that may not be warranted, so please take that into consideration when you decide whether or not you will share your opinion," Van Atta's letter said. "Our column will, of necessity, note a lack of response if that is the case."

Although some of those who received the letter read this passage to mean that they would be named in a future Anderson-Van Atta column on Bush, Van Atta said yesterday that was not the case.

The person who made a copy of the letter available yesterday was angered that it tried to put Cabinet members on the spot about how they view Bush behind closed doors.

But Van Atta said he "was just trying to find out what George Bush is like . . . . We're in the middle of a campaign season, and not one Cabinet member has come out for Bush. You've got three former Cabinet members who have come out for {Senate Minority Leader Robert J.} Dole."

Van Atta noted that one of those three is former transportation secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole, the candidate's wife. The others are former secretary of state Alexander M. Haig Jr., who endorsed Dole when Haig dropped out of the 1988 Republican presidential race, and former labor secretary William E. Brock, Dole's campaign chairman. A current Cabinet member, Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, is a longtime Bush supporter and a former Bush campaign chief.

"If reporting has gotten such that asking questions of people is controversial, especially about something that is not confidential or classified, then what have we gotten into," Van Atta said.

Thomas C. Griscom, White House communications director, said that those who have called the White House to ask about the letter said that they intended to stand with President Reagan, who said at a recent Cabinet meeting that he is neutral and expects all of his Cabinet to remain neutral during the primaries.

"We did not put out any administrative guidance," Griscom said. "Two or three called and basically indicated that 'We've looked at this and we don't feel it's appropriate to respond except to say that the VP has been an effective vice president . . . . "

"That's not a nonresponse," Griscom added.

He said there was no plan to respond with a form letter from the Cabinet, as at least one member suggested.

Van Atta said in his letter: "I realize that asking you for your personal assessment of Mr. Bush is a sensitive and bold request, but I value your insight as a person who has worked closely with the vice president and who can offer information to the public that rarely comes out in the campaign rhetoric."

"I hope you are eager to share your personal assessment of Mr. Bush, but if that makes you uncomfortable, I can offer other options, including using your remarks with no attribution other than to tell our readers that they come from a former or current Cabinet member . . . . It is not my intent to jeopardize your position by exposing you to undue public scrutiny."