Primary Navigation

Law Library

Sample horizontal photo

Research Tools

Research Guides

Researching Administrative Law

Actions Taken by Federal Agencies
  • Rules and regulations
  • Administrative Decisions
  • Advisory opinions
  • Orders
  • Licenses
The Federal Register Act of 1935
  • Requires agencies to publish regulations
  • Prior to this, there was no systematic method for developing, publishing and enforcing regulations. Rules were published in separate publications, such as gazettes, bulletins, rulings, digests, pamphlets, notices, codes, certificates, orders, etc.
  • Federal Register began publication on March 14, 1936
Administrative Procedure Act (APA)
  • The Administrative Procedure Act (1946) requires agencies to publish proposed and final regulations
  • Notice and Comment period
  • Preamble includes the regulatory history
  • Final regulation contains updated preamble, including responses to comments and a discussion of changes between the proposed and final regulation
  • Use the Federal Register to monitor proposed and final rules, to update the CFR, and to trace the history and background of a regulation
The Federal Register
  • Centralized publication of key agency documents
  • Daily newspaper of the executive branch
  • Published daily (federal working days) since March 14, 1936
  • Paginated continuously throughout the year
  • Each year's issues make up one volume
  • Overall issues: chronological arrangement of regulations (like Statutes at Large)
Federal Register - Individual issue arrangement:
  • Rules and Regulations (Documents with final legal effect)
  • Proposed Rules (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - NPRM)
  • Notices (May affect the public but do not amend the CFR. Includes meeting notices, grant announcements/funding environmental impact statements)
  • Presidential Documents (Executive Orders, Proclamations, Administrative Orders)
  • Corrections (OFR or GPO typographical errors)
  • Reader Aids (Contact information, FR pages and dates, CFR parts affected during the month)
The Code of Federal Regulations
  • First published in 1939
  • Published annually in quaterly installments
  • More recent updates appear in the Federal Register

The CFR is divided into 50 titles

  • Each title (broad subject area) is divided into:
    • Chapter (Rules of individual agency)
    • Subchapter
    • Part (Rules on a single program or function)
    • Section (One provision of program/function rule

Search Strategy: Finding Regulations in Print Sources

Finding newly promulgated regulations & proposed regulations:

If you know that a regulation has been proposed or adopted recently, look in the Federal Register

  • Use the print monthly (cumulative) Federal Register Index or search online

Finding Regulations in Force. Does a regulation exist?

  • Use the CFR - Look for regulations in the CFR in one of the following ways:
    • Use CFR Index and Finding Aids (a single volume within the CFR set)
      • Published annually, one volume with two parts:
  • If you know the authorizing statute use:
  • Use West's Code of Federal Regulations General Index, 4 volumes, with references to CFR title and code section.
  • Use an annotated code: USCS or USCA
    • Look in the statute's annotations for cross references to applicable CFR regulations
    • USCS usually has more CFR cross references in its annotations than does USCA

Last updated 4/15/11 jbm