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Administrative and Regulatory Law

An overview of federal administrative and regulatory law - what it is, how to find it and how it is used.

Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations


Published by the Office of the Federal Register and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. It is updated daily by 6 a.m. and is published Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The General Printing Office (GPO) Federal Digital System (FDsys) contains Federal Register volumes from 59 (1994) to the present.

HeinOnline has a full coverage Federal Register library. The library also has the Federal Register on microfiche from Hein - the microfiche is found in cabinets to the North of the elevators on the 5th floor and the reader is around the corner toward the restrooms. 


The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) annual edition is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. The 50 subject matter titles (see link under "Useful Links" for list of titles) contain one or more individual volumes, which are updated once each calendar year, on a staggered basis. The annual update cycle is as follows: titles 1-16 are revised as of January 1; titles 17-27 are revised as of April 1; titles 28-41 are revised as of July 1, and titles 42-50 are revised as of October 1. Each title is divided into chapters, which usually bear the name of the issuing agency. Each chapter is further subdivided into parts that cover specific regulatory areas. Large parts may be subdivided into subparts. All parts are organized in sections, and most citations to the CFR refer to material at the section level.

HeinOnline also provides access to the CFR, and the library has the CFR on microfiche from Hein as well (see discussion of Federal Register above for location).

Administrative Law Decisions

There is no single comprehensive source for agency decisions; they can be found via the respective agency's website and/or publications, online databases (West, Lexis-Nexis, HeinOnline, LLMC Digital) and certain print resources, as well as via law journal articles regarding the respective topic/agency/regulation.  

HeinOnline has U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions and Appeals Library ( which offers a variety of browsing options, including by agency or by "GPO Best Sellers".  This HeinOnline library offers "a complete collection of the official case law of some of the United States’ most important government institutions" and includes, for example, National Labor Relations Board decisions dating back to 1934.




Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents

"Presidential Documents" include Executive Orders, Proclamations, Administrative Orders, Presidential Memoranda, and other issuances of the President that are required or directed to be published in the Federal Register.

Executive Orders are official documents, numbered consecutively, through which the President of the United States manages the operations of the Federal Government.  The text of Executive Orders appears in the daily Federal Register as each Executive Order is signed by the President and received by the Office of the Federal Register. The text of Executive Orders, beginning with Executive Order 7316 of March 13, 1936, also appears in the sequential editions of Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

NOTE: The total number of Executive Orders issued for each administration includes number-and-letter designated orders, such as 9577-A, 9616-A, etc.

(From National Archives: and Federal Register:

Information regarding the Executive Orders from presidents beginning with President Clinton, browsable by president and year (including the number of EOs in each year) can be found at  

Federal Register News Feed - Articles "Deemed Significant"

Documents "deemed to be significant under E.O. 12866" ( by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA, pronounced "oh-eye-ruh") deal with significant regulatory actions, defined in the Executive Order as those that:

  1. Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities;
  2. Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;
  3. Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or
  4. Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive order.

(From FAQ:  

Below is the FR newsfeed to Articles that are "deemed significant" (hover over links for more info):

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Federal Register News Feed - All Articles

This feed provides all articles published by the Federal Register, regardless of "significance" and is therefore broader in scope than the feed above (hover over links for more info, if available). Note that most agencies also offer RSS feeds to which one can subscribe, or they can be followed on Twitter.  For example, if you are taking an environmental law class, you may consider following @EPA, @EPAwater and/or @EPAnews and subscribing to the RSS feeds via the Federal Register EPA page (

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