Oct. 1 is to bureaucrats what Jan. 1 is to Ordinary America: a time of change, resolution, contemplation, reflection and the quaint notion that this year, by golly, we're going to do it right.

In that spirit, the government has undertaken to make sure that federal agencies pay their bills on time, reduce the time they spend on paper work and stop giving away free what people will pay good money for.

A government-wide housekeeping change, effective today, requires federal agencies to pay their contractors within 30 days of getting the bill. If the bill isn't paid within 45 days, the agency has to pay interest.

The General Services Administration, the government's office manager, has a new procurement system designed to save money, reduce paper work and provide greater protection from fraud, waste and abuse. The Agriculture Department's Foreign Agricultural Service has set subscription rates for trade publications ($50 a year for "Export Briefs" and $20 a year for "Contacts for U.S. Farm Products," for example), and the Patent and Trademark Office in Commerce starts charging 20 cents for a token to use the office copying machine.

A look at what else starts today:

* At the Agriculture Department, control of dangerous weeds will be centralized in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The sugar import quota for fiscal 1983 (2.8 million short tons) goes into effect, the interest rate on most Farmers Home Administration loans will drop, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service begins using new export certificates.

* In addition to copying fees, the Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office begins charging a basic $300 fee for filing original patent applications, and $1,500 to file a request for reexamination of a patent.

* GSA will start asking its suppliers questions to help identify women-owned firms doing business with the federal government.

* The Food and Drug Administration begins exempting antibiotic drugs from "batch-by-batch" certification.

* The Housing and Urban Development Department has a new rule barring states from transferring unused low-income housing funding authority one year to the next.

* The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management doubles the $2 camping fee at the Squaw Valley Recreation Site in Arizona.

* The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative sets specific sugar import quotas that award the Dominican Republic 17.6 percent of U.S. imports, followed by Brazil (14.5 percent) and the Philippines (13.5 percent).

* The State Department has a new foreign missions office, in the office of the undersecretary for management, to promote reciprocal diplomatic relationships.

* In the Transportation Department, the Federal Aviation Administration has new rules for aircraft operations, including one requiring that an aircraft's public address system be audible in lower galleys. The Federal Railroad Administration allows railroad power brakes to be used 1,000 miles without an inspection, rather than 500 miles, and the Civil Aeronautics Board has reinstated its bumping rule, dropped during the air traffic controllers' strike, requiring double payment for passengers who don't get seats because of overbooking.

* The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has established the "Finger Lakes" viticultural area in New York and the "Livermore Valley" viticultural area in California for the purpose of labeling wines.

* The Interstate Commerce Commission has given railroads a bit more leeway in the rates they can charge for freight, particularly coal and grain.