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Last Updated: Feb 8, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Federal Government: Administrative Information

Administrative Law Research

Administrative or regulatory law is comprised of the various rules and actions that are enacted by administrative agencies and bodies such as the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Education or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Agencies have different powers depending on whether or not they are considered executive, legislative or independent.

The role of administrative agencies is to make rules and enforce or adjudicate them. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§551 et. seq. gives the requirements, procedures, standards and procedures for rulemaking, hearings and adjudication. Congress makes laws that give agencies the authority to issue and enforce regulations.

Most Federal administrative materials are printed in the Federal Register (FR) and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This guide will give you an overview of the regulatory process as well as resources and tips for starting your administrative law research.

Check our library catalog for study aids such as nutshells or treatises on Administrative Law.


    Federal Government: Regulatory Information

    • U.S. Government Manual
      The Manual provides information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial and executive branches as well as boards, committees, and commissions. It gives summaries of agencies' purposes, brief histories and also gives consumer and public interest information. It includes indexes by personal name and agency/subject.
      The Tulane Law Library has the current paper copy in the Reference Collection (AE 2.108/2). Older editions are in the 5th Floor Government Documents collection.
    • Code of Federal Regulations
      Administrative Regulations arranged by Agency and subject in the FDsys government database.
    • Code of Federal Regulations
      Administrative Regulations in the Cornell Legal Information Institute database.
    • Federal Register
      Administrative Regulations published in a daily format and including proposed regulations.

    Subscription Databases with Regulatory Information

    Use Databases & Indexes (the terms are often used interchangeably) to identify research articles, technical reports, book chapters, and other materials on your topic. You may need to search more than one database to locate the most appropriate materials for your information need.

    • Proquest Congressional Publications
      (You must have a Tulane email username and password) Offers access to Regulatory as well as congressional publications dealing with the wide variety of topics.
    • Hein Online
      (you must have a Tulane email username and password) The Federal Register Library, U.S. Presidential Library, U.S. Attorney General Opinions, U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Supreme Court Library, or the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library.

    • U.S. Government Bookstore
      Government documents can be purchased online. Government documents are usually inexpensive.
    • USA.Gov
      "One stop shopping" for government information.

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    Find E-Journal


    Finding Federal Regulations

    Finding Federal Regulations
    In Print and Online

       Finding a federal agency’s regulations can be done in several ways. In print, the daily Federal Register and the annual Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), used together, provide an up-to-date version of federal agency regulations.


    How Regulations are Made   

    Resource Overview

        1.  Federal Register - Published every business day, this publication is the first official source for proposed and final federal regulations, as well as for informational notices regarding regulatory matters. It also contains the text of presidential documents and executive orders. Because hundreds of executive agencies are creating their own regulations, it is imperative that there be a central source for Americans to access these regulations. The Federal Register provides the important primary access point to regulatory material.

        2.  Federal Register Index - This is a cumulative monthly index, published separately but included with each Federal Register subscription. It is a consolidation of the Federal Register tables of contents, supplemented by a few general subject headings, so the entry points tend to be very broad. If a researcher is unsure of the issuing agency or the specific descriptive terms relating to a regulation, it may be difficult to locate that particular regulation. There are some commercial indexes published, such as the Congressional Information Service’s Federal Register Index, which offer enhanced subject access and greater timeliness.

        3.  The Federal Register Index: What It Is and How to Use It - Published by the Office of the Federal Register, this guide provides background information and an overview of the entire Federal Register system, plus practical advice and instructions on how to do regulatory research on the federal level. Using sample pages and examples, it walks the searcher through the entire regulatory process on a very basic and fundamental level.

       4.    The C.F.R.  is a codification (subject arrangement) of the current "general and permanent" regulations of the federal government. It consists of 50 titles that represent broad subject areas. The titles are divided into chapters, chapters into parts, and parts into sections.

     After the first step of publication in the Federal Register, the final versions of rules and all presidential documents and executive orders are codified into the CFR. Divided into fifty titles, each representing a broad subject area, the CFR is further subdivided into chapters (one for each rule-issuing agency), parts (general topics of regulation), and sections (the rules themselves). The section is the basic unit of the CFR, with section numbers incorporating part and chapter numbers. A CFR citation consists of the title number (the broadest division), the CFR abbreviation, the section number (the smallest division),  and the date of the volume edition, e.g. 40 CFR 211.10 (2000). Individual volumes are revised once a calendar year and issued on a staggered basis. This means that roughly the first quarter of the volumes are updated during the first three months of the year, the second quarter during the second three months, and so on. The CFR contains the general body of federal regulatory rules in force, but due to the delays in updating the volumes, one must use other indexes and resources to find newer regulations that have been published in the Federal Register, but have not yet been codified. Also, if one is doing historical research, one might have to use superseded CFR volumes and/or the Federal Register, since deleted regulations will be dropped from the newer editions.   

       5.   CFR Index and Finding Aids The C.F.R. is revised annually as of January 1. This volume contains a subject/agency index. In addition, it contains a list of agency-prepared indexes which appear in       individual C.F.R. volumes; a list of C.F.R. titles, chapters, subchapters, and parts; an alphabetical list of agencies       appearing in the C.F.R.; a list of acts requiring publication in the Federal Register; and a table of laws and       Presidential documents cited as authority for regulations currently codified in the C.F.R.

     6.   Federal Register Because the C.F.R. is updated only annually, the Federal Register must always be used to determine if the regulation       has been changed since the C.F.R. volume was last published.

    7.    List of CFR Sections Affected       (L.S.A.) Updating regulations to the present day is critical. To update the C.F.R., use the List of CFR Sections Affected       (L.S.A.) (on the web at (, a monthly       publication. L.S.A. issues are shelved with the current C.F.R. volumes. L.S.A. cumulates annually into four issues that       cover all 50 C.F.R. titles according to the following schedule: Titles 1-16 as of December; Titles 17-27 as of March;       Titles 28-41 as of June; Titles 42-50 as of September.

    The monthly LSA comes as part of a Federal Register subscription, but it can also be purchased separately. It serves as a connector between newly published rules in the Federal Register and the codified version that will eventually appear in the CFR. Each proposed and final rule found in the Federal Register contains the CFR citation where it will be codified. The LSA may be searched by CFR title, chapter, part, and section numbers. It cannot be searched by subject headings or agency names; you must have a CFR citation to locate updates indexed in the LSA. If there have been any changes to the section in which you are interested, the LSA will give you a Federal Register cite, where you will find the new amendment or rule promulgated since the latest volume revision. Each monthly LSA issue is cumulative, but due to the staggered revision schedule of the CFR, four permanent issues of the LSA must be retained during the year in order to ensure comprehensive coverage of changes between volume revisions.

          First, use the current version of the C.F.R. which is located in the Reading Room. Next, update that with the latest monthly issues of the L.S.A. (which cumulate the months since the effective date of the annual), located at the end of the C.F.R. Finally, use the "CFR Parts Affected" in the latest available issue of the Federal Register. This table cumulates changes appearing in all Federal Register issues for that month.

    To summarize, update the C.F.R. by checking the following:
    1. Annual L.S.A.
    2. Monthly L.S.A. issues
    3. Latest daily issue of the Federal Register (current month and any month for which there is not coverage by the L.S.A.)
    [The need for using the annual L.S.A. issue always depends on whether a new C.F.R. title has been published since the last annual L.S.A. was issued. Follow the dates provided on the outside covers and tops of each page.]

      Created by:

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      Carla Pritchett, Reference /Government Documents Librarian
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      Phone: 504.865.5994
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      Terminology and Definitions


          Administrative regulations and decisions along with statutes and judicial opinions, comprise primary sources of law. Federal regulations are created by executive agencies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency. State regulations, issued by state executive agencies, such as the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, must be in compliance and agreement with the federal regulations, although in many instances they may be more detailed and specific.


      1.  Legislative branch: the branch of government that drafts and votes on bills which are sometimes enacted into public laws or session laws, published as statutes and subject-arranged into codes. Examples of legislative branches include the U.S. Congress and the Louisiana Legislature.

      2.  Judicial branch: the system of courts at either the federal or state level that interprets and applies the laws of the government. Usually there is a supreme or high court, and then lower appellate (appeals) and trial courts.

      3.  Executive branch: Agencies and departments charged with implementing the laws enacted by the legislative branch of government.

      4.  Regulation: an order having the force of law, issued by executive authority of government, sometimes referred to as a rule.

      5.  Register: a publication that makes available to the public all the proposed and final agency regulations and other legal documents of the executive branch of government, e.g. the Federal Register which is published daily, and the Louisiana Register which comes out monthly.

      6.  Code: sometimes referred to as an administrative code, contains the codified version of regulations arranged by titles and sections according to subject.


       Laws passed by Congress and the fifty state legislatures use general language to create broad policy statements. Executive agencies are authorized to create the more detailed regulations needed to carry out the intent of the legislatures.

      (This difference can be illustrated by noting that the Code of Federal Regulations takes up about three times as much shelf space as the United States Code. )

      Federal Regulatory Process

      Creation of regulations

      1.  Proposed rules - Since regulations affect every aspect of our lives from birth to death, a fundamental principle of our government revolves around citizen participation in the process. Staff members of an executive agency write a draft rule based on their expertise and experience, and that rule appears in the “Proposed Rules” section of the Federal Register, along with some background information, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of contact persons at the agency, and the deadline for comments to be received. Interested parties monitoring a particular agency’s regulations usually have at least two months during which they may submit comments or suggestions regarding a proposed rule.

      2.  Final rules - The agency staff members overseeing a particular proposed rule will sift through and analyze all comments received by the deadline, addressing each issue and point raised. The specifics of this process are not published anywhere, but public input has been known to result in substantial changes in or even abandonment of a proposed rule. In most cases, however, the final version of the rule will appear in the Federal Register, manifesting any changes deemed appropriate, and listing a date when the rule will take effect.

       3.  Codified rules - After a final rule has been published in the Federal Register, the next step is for it to be codified into the Code of Federal Regulations, a subject arrangement of all federal regulations currently in effect. The fifty titles of the code comprise nearly two hundred individual volumes that are revised annually. If a particular regulation has not been codified at a certain point in time, the Federal Register version will have to be used. Any subsequent changes to the regulation will have to go through the whole process again, from proposed rule to final rule to codification in the Code of Federal Regulations. Navigating this process and the ensuing paper trail to ensure that one has found the latest version of a rule can be very challenging and tricky for even the most skilled researcher.




        In Microform: The Federal Register from 1936 is available in microfilm in Cabinets 5 and 6 of the Microform Room on the 4th floor. The Code of Federal Regulations is available in Cabinet 6 for the years 1939-1981.


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