Of the scores of associations and special-interest groups fighting for equal time on Capitol Hill and at the White House, one association has little trouble finding an audience.

In fact, the mission of the Business Advisory Council on Federal Reports lately has become a cause ce'le bre: to curb the federal government's penchant for pushing paper.

"It's gotten to be almost like motherhood," says the association's new executive director, Mark E. Richardson. "Paperwork is seen politically as something everyone is against."

The 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act, which attempts to reduce the burden of redundant federal reporting requirements, has given the 43-year-old association renewed vigor, as have the efforts of the Grace Commission, a group of private-sector executives who studied ways to reduce government waste.

Unlike the Grace Commission, which focused on the efficiency of the government itself, the council attempts to eliminate seemingly needless forms and reports required of business by the federal government. Richardson defines the mission as "finding out how the government can help business cut costs."

For example, he said, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis has proposed that companies that trade overseas file a lengthy form, called the Survey of Service Transactions with Unaffiliated Foreign Persons, so that the agency can compile more detailed information on international trade. Richardson argues that this report would be needlessly burdensome, requiring some companies to go over every foreign-transaction invoice for an entire year -- a virtually impossible task for a large company such as Du Pont, he contends.

Richardson concedes that, in some cases, there may be a fine distinction between eliminating unnecessary paperwork and challenging federal regulations, which is not the council's mission.

The council was formed in 1942, when the size of the federal bureaucracy was increasing and federal officials were worried about placing an unnecessary paperwork burden on small business during World War II, Richardson said.

Now the council's members include most of the Fortune 500 companies, which pay about $800 in dues a year -- a small sum compared with other business associations, Richardson said.

Richardson, 57, for 11 years was president of the American Footwear Industries Association before his most recent job as partner in a Washington law firm specializing in trade matters. He said his new job interested him because he "speaks the language" of Washington, but also understands the business viewpoint. Granted he's only been at the game of policing the paper pushers one month, but he exclaims: "I enjoy this job immensely." PROFESSIONAL

At its annual convention in Philadelphia this month, the National Association of Bank Women Inc. elected Washington banker Marybeth Fidler Bernhardt president of the 63-year-old, Chicago-based group. Bernhardt, who directs commercial lending and business development in the Washington area for D.C. National Bank, also is on the board of the Washington Urban League and is a commissioner of the National Commission of Working Women.

The American Consulting Engineers Council has elected James K. Coyne, director of the White House Office of Private Sector Initiatives since 1983, as chief executive officer of this national association, which represents about 4,400 engineering firms. He succeeds Larry N. Spiller, executive vice president since 1979, who resigned in July to work full-time as a consultant to the council on special projects. Coyne, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, also was president of the Coyne Chemical Co. in Philadelphia and project manager for Louis Berger Inc., an East Orange, N.J., engineering firm.

The Women Business Owners of Montgomery County has elected George-Anne Fay, president of Fay Associates, a management consulting and educational firm, president for the 1985-86 term.

The American Institute of Architects has appointed Paul T. Knapp director of communications for the Washington-based group. Knapp was executive director of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Coleges for 13 years.

At its recent meeting in Chicago, the Washington-based American Association for Hospital Planning named John C. Bartlett as its president. Bartlett is Houston office manager of Herman Smith Associates, a major hospital and health-care consulting firm. TRADE

The National Association of Manufacturers, whose 13,000 member firms employ 85 percent of the country's industrial workers, has named Michael Lane executive director of its associations council, an affiliate that focuses on the concerns of other manufacturing trade associations. Lane, who has held senior posts with the National Solid Wastes Management Association's Equipment Manufacturers Institute and the Construction Products Manufacturers Council, will direct the Council's efforts to gain association support of NAM's legislative agenda.

The Maryland Industrial Development Association, a group of 150 development professionals in business and government, has elected John R. Sundergill, representative for economic development at Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., as president. Through educational programs, published reports and special projects, MIDAS works to improve the prospects for new business development in Maryland. Other officers recently elected include: William Sivertsen, director of economic development for Harford County, as vice president; Richard Story, acting director of Maryland Economic Growth Associates, as secretary; and David Winstead, executive director of the Washington/Baltimore Regional Association, as treasurer.

The Maryland Retail Merchants Association, which represents 750 retail companies in Maryland, has elected officers for 1985-86: Shaun Butler, Glen Burnie store manager for Sears, Roebuck & Co., as president; William Ceglia, manager for J. C. Penny Co. Inc.'s Security Square Mall store, as vice president; and James Crawford, merchandise department manager at Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., as treasurer. New board members are: Harris Cohen, corporate credit manager of Reliable Stores; Thomas Fingleton, senior vice president of finance for the Hecht Co.; David Forell, controller of Hutzler Brother's Co.; Joseph Galluci, senior vice president for finance at Woodward & Lothrop; Edward Goldberg, vice president of Bambergers; Jack Kaminski, president of Hamburgers in Baltimore; Alvin Miller, president of Princess Shops Inc.; Artis Peters, of Peters Enterprises in Baltimore; Edward Ritz, of Ritz Camera Shops; and G. Fletcher Ward Jr. of Montgomery Ward & Co.

Melart Jewelers Chairman Albert A. Foer has been elected a director of Jewelers of America, the largest jewelry industry trade association, and treasurer of the Diamond Council of America, a nonprofit educational foundation that certifies professionals in the fields of diamontology and gemology. Foer, a former senior executive of the Federal Trade Commission, joined Melart in 1983 as vice president and general counsel and later succeeded his father as chairman