Former secretary of defense Caspar W. Weinberger has written his memoirs of the Reagan administration. Former secretary of state George P. Shultz is working on his.

Both made arrangements to get thousands of pages of classified information to help them with their recollections.

The General Accounting Office says it found irregularities in the handling of the papers for both Reagan Cabinet officers. In a report to Sen. David Pryor (D-Ark.), the GAO auditors were especially critical of the arrangement for the Weinberger papers, which were deposited at the Library of Congress as though he owned them.

"There appears to be an inverse relationship between the level one attains in the executive branch and one's obligation to comply with the law governing access to, and control of, classified information," Pryor charged in releasing the report.

"It's bad enough these former officials are afforded special privileges for the purpose of enabling them to write their memoirs," Pryor said. "However, former secretary Weinberger adds insult to injury by having the taxpayer foot the bill for records, both classified and unclassified, which he claims to own and which he is 'storing' at the Library of Congress."

Weinberger, whose memoir is "Fighting for Peace: Seven Critical Years in the Pentagon," did not return telephone calls. Shultz's office said he was traveling abroad and would not be readily available even after his return.

Under the "need-to-know" rule, classified information generally cannot be disseminated to anyone whose official duties do not require it. But the two Reagan Cabinet secretaries obtained access for their memoirs under a special exemption for individuals who "previously have occupied policy-making positions to which they were appointed by the president."

Such dispensations, the GAO found, are rarely granted. Of 51 agencies surveyed, only three -- Defense, State and the U.S. Information Agency -- have provided them.

State made special arrangements for three ex-officials, former secretaries Shultz, Henry A. Kissinger and Alexander M. Haig Jr. Defense took care of seven: former secretaries Weinberger, Robert S. McNamara, Clark Clifford, Elliot L. Richardson and Donald Rumsfeld, former undersecretary Fred C. Ikle, and former National Security Agency director William E. Odom. USIA transferred classified documents to the Reagan presidential library project at the request of former USIA director Charles Wick.

According to a 1982 executive order still in effect, the waivers can be granted only if the agency originating the secrets makes a written finding that "access is consistent with the national security," takes "appropriate steps" to protect the information and limits access to items that the ex-official originated, reviewed, signed or received.

The Pentagon did not bother with a written finding for Weinberger, the GAO said. Instead, the investigators reported, Defense officials shipped copies of 13,697 classified items, including nearly 1,000 Top Secret records and more than 200 "Q" documents dealing with nuclear weapons, to the Library of Congress under an "Agreement of Deposit" between Weinberger and the library.

One of the library's staff archivists spent about 18 months processing and indexing these and other Weinberger papers.

The GAO said it was "concerned" about the agreement because it not only gave Weinberger control over access to the classified information, but also allowed him to remove any document from the collection at his discretion.

Concern about those provisions was also expressed by the White House's Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), whose director, Steven Garfinkel, has emphasized for years that classified information, including extra copies, "can never become personal property" and cannot be removed from the government's control by any departing official.

ISOO recommended last February that the Weinberger agreement be amended to ensure government control, but the Pentagon took the position that this was unnecessary because the signers had "no intent" other than to comply with all pertinent laws and directives.

Garfinkel said in an interview that the Pentagon response satisfied him because it also promised periodic oversight inspections of the Weinberger collection. In addition, he said library officials had been much stricter than the agreement suggested and had not allowed removal of any classified documents.

In fact, Garfinkel said, "I've been told the Library of Congress was so rigid that {Weinberger} was almost sorry he didn't leave the records at the Defense Department."

The GAO said Garfinkel's office should still issue new guidelines ensuring that any future agreements with former presidential appointees contain no provisions that could compromise government control. Pryor said the Weinberger agreement also appeared inconsistent with a 1985 classified information non-disclosure form that Weinberger signed, renouncing "any right, interest, title or claim whatsoever to such information."

In Shultz's case, the report was more critical of the State Department than of him. The department issued the requisite finding, made copies of about 75,000 documents at Shultz's expense, and transferred them to the Federal Records Center in San Bruno, Calif., about 25 miles north of the Hoover Insitutution at Stanford University, where Shultz is writing his memoirs. Shultz can have a certain amount transferred to Hoover for up to 60 days at a time.

The GAO investigators said about 60,000 documents in the Shultz collection were classified, but the Top Secret papers among them were not inventoried or assigned control numbers as State's regulations require. When this was done at GAO's behest, officials found about 120 documents with Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) or similar designations that had to be returned to Foggy Bottom.

In addition, the GAO indicated, officials at State failed to sift supposedly unclassified personal papers that were separately shipped to Shultz. Spot checks of this collection, the report said, turned up a number of classified documents that had to be removed to a special vault.