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Administrative Law: Federal Regulations

A guide for researching administrative law.

Regulations

Congress (or the state legislature) delegates the authority to make laws to the agency by giving them statutory authorization. Where the authorizing statute is silent, the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 500 - 596) governs the process. The agency must publish proposed rules, allow a public comment period, consider those comments and make revisions to the rule as necessary, and then publish the final rule.

The proposed and final rules can be found in three places: the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, and at Regulations.gov.

Federal Register

Federal Register

Proposed regulations and final regulations are published in the Federal Register, which is a newspaper published every federal workday. It also publishes presidential executive orders and proclamations, agency activities, announcements of public agency hearings, grant opportunities, and future rulemaking notices. In order for any administrative regulation to be legally effective, it must be published in the Federal Register. (The National Archives provides an in-depth tutorial if you desire more information.)

Online (Free)

Govinfo.gov (1936 - )
Browse by date or search full-text.

FederalRegister.gov  (1994 - )
Filter search results by agency, topic (C.F.R. indexing terms), or type of document. Search by index.

Online (Subscription required)

HeinOnline (1936 - )
Browse by date, retrieve by citation, search by index, or search full-text.

Lexis

Federal Register (1936 - )
Browse by date or search full-text.

Westlaw

Federal Register (1936 - )
Search full-text.

Print

Back wall of Reserve Room

Rule 14.2 of the Bluebook provides the proper form for citing to the Federal Register. It should include any commonly used name, the volume number, Fed. Reg., the page number, the date published in the Federal Register, and where it will be codified if that information is included in the Federal Register. The following is an example of a citation to the Federal Register : Federal Acquisiton Regulations for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 55 Fed. Reg. 52,782 (Dec. 21, 1990)(to be codified at 48 C.F.R. pt.1)

 

Code of Federal Regulations

Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations is the annual codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register, similar to the United States Code. The C.F.R. is divided into 50 titles that contain similar topical material. The title numbers of the C.F.R. do not align with the U.S. Code titles. Title 3 of the C.F.R. contains presidential proclamations, executive orders, and other presidential documents which are required to be published in the Federal Register. Each title is updated on a rolling basis annually.

Online (Free)

Govinfo.gov (1996 - )
This is the digital version of the annual printing. Each title is updated once a year when the print copies are updated. Browse by year or search full-text. Search by index.

e-CFR (current)
This is an unofficial copy of the C.F.R. but it is updated on a regular basis. Look for the "e-CFR data is current as of {date}" at the top of the page to determine currentness. Browse by title or search full-text.

Online (Subscription required)

HeinOnline (1938 - )
Browse by year or title, or search full-text.

Lexis

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations (1981 - )
Browse by title, search by index, or search full-text. If an archived version of a C.F.R. section is available, then a link to archived code versions will appear under About This Document.

Westlaw

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (current); Code of Federal Regulations - Historical (back to 1984)
Browse by title, search by index, or search full-text. 

Print

Back wall of Reserve Room.

Rule 14.2 of the Bluebook provides the proper form for citing to the Code of Federal Regulations. It should include the title number, C.F.R., section symbol and number, and the year the copy being used was published. The following is an example of a citation to the Code of Federal Regulations: 7 C.F.R. § 319.76(1999).

 

Regulations.gov

Regulations.gov is another tool to keep up with proposed regulations. It posts proposed rules and final rules, along with notices first printed in the Federal Register. It often includes supporting materials related to the regulations. Regulations.gov is also where an user can search, comment on, and read other's comments on proposed rules and final rules.




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