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Administrative Law Series: Using the Federal Register System  

Finding regulatory law using the Federal Register System
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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What is Administrative Law?

Federal administrative agencies are granted legislative authority to implement and oversee particular statutory acts.  These agencies perform many tasks as part of their administrative function including rulemaking, enforcement, and adjudication.  For this reason, research in the area of administrative law can sometimes be overwhelming.  You are likely to encounter a variety of materials encompassing everything from proposed rules to presidential proclamations and administrative law decisions. This library guide, the first in a federal administrative law series, will help you locate regulatory law using the Federal Register System.


    Administrative Law Treatises

    Congress passes legislation on an wide variety of subjects, but it can be inefficient and impractical for legislators to stipulate how each law should be implemented.  Some legislation requires expert interpretation by a regulatory agency well-versed in technical or scientific knowledge.  These agencies interpret and apply statutory law by creating rules and regulations.  In turn, these regulations give specificity to the statutes and define procedures for the execution and enforcement of the law.  

    For an introduction to this area of law, look for one of the following treatises in our collection.


    Location: Main at KF5402 .D381 2002

    Location: Main at KF5402 .F68 2000

    Location: Main at KF5402 .S87 2002

    Location: Main at KF5401 .P524

    Location: KF5401-5245 (located on the 4th floor)


    Agency Directories

    Before using administrative materials, familiarize yourself with the agencies that regulate the areas of law central to your research. Directories and indexes are good starting points, as they provide access to current information about all federal agencies, offices, bureaus, and commissions, with links to their respective websites.  

    United States Government ManualAs the official handbook of the federal government, this source provides comprehensive coverage of all federal agencies, including quasiofficial institutions and selected international organizations.  It is a good tool for locating the legislative code citations that grant an agency its administrative authority (referred to as the agency's organic act or enabling legislation).  This background information is vital as agencies are sometimes targeted for acting beyond the scope of their mandate. Government Agencies and Elected Officials: is designed to facilitate navigation of the federal bureaucracy, without requiring knowledge of organizational structure, program names, or acronyms. This directory page is an alphabetical index of all agency websites; information provided by these sites is typically very current. Like the site below, it is a resource for those who already know which agency website they are looking for, as it does not offer subject searching.  To search by subject, try the Cross Agency Portal, which is also part of

    Federal Agency DirectoryThis directory was created as a partnership between LSU and the Federal Depository Library Program.  Like, this site does not index every level of organization, particularly for those agencies that have many sub-departments, but the websites of the parent organizations are typically well-indexed and will guide you to the sub-department you need.

    Washburn University Agency Guidance Table: This table charts all federal agencies with direct links to their publications, forms, opinions/actions, manuals, directories, organizational charts, and libraries.


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