Regulations are promulgated by government agencies to enforce particular statutes under their jurisdiction. It is the work of federal administrative agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Reserve Board to provide procedures for implementation and enforcement of statutes under their jurisdiction. Researching federal agency regulations can be difficult. Agency regulations are numerous and can be amended frequently.


Federal agency regulations are published officially first in the daily Federal Register, published Monday­Friday, except federal holidays. (LOCATION: RESERVE: latest 3 months; LL1: bound volumes and Microfiche #95). It is the medium through which the public is notified of official federal agency actions. The process of publication of agency rules in the Federal Register is intricate. Usually regulations are published first in the Register as "proposed" regulations. The public generally is allowed 30­60 days to submit comments on the regulations after this notice. While the comments submitted by the public are not published in the Register, the preamble to the final regulations will sometimes summarize the comments which were submitted. After this procedure is followed, final regulations may be are issued. However, not every proposed regulation will result in a final regulation. In addition, there can be a great lapse of time between the issuance of proposed regulations and the publication of final regulations in the Federal Register. The Federal Register also contains presidential executive orders, proclamations, reorganization plans, notices, and Sunshine Act meetings announcements. Each regulation published in the Federal Register contains a preamble explaining the basis and purpose of the regulation. Also included are the names and addresses of individuals to contact for further information. This information, very useful in tracking the history of a federal regulation, is not reprinted in the C.F.R.. The Federal Register is the only place where this information can be found.

The Federal Register can be searched online in LEXIS in the GENFED library (FEDREG file). Coverage is July 1980 to the present. On WESTLAW, the Federal Register can be searched in the FR database. Coverage is July 1980 to the present.

Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.)

Regulations are codified, or arranged by subject in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). (LOCATION: RESERVE: current year; LL1: the most recent 10 years in hard copy; LL1: complete set of C.F.R., Microfiche #96). The C.F.R. contains the current text of agency regulations as of the revision date printed on the volume. The C F.R. is divided into 50 titles, each title representing a different subject area. For example, Title 12 of the C.F.R. contains banking regulations. Title 40 deals with the protection of the environment. Some title numbers of the C.F.R. parallel those of the U.S.C.; other titles do not. Each title of the C.F.R. is divided into chapters, parts, and sections. At the beginning of each part, an "Authority" note provides the statutory or executive authority under which the regulations in that part are issued. Following the authority note, there is a "Source" note giving the Federal Register citation and date where the part was last published in full. If individual sections have been amended or added later there is a separate authority or source note listed. Each volume of the C.F.R. is revised once a year. The revision takes place on a quarterly basis: Titles 1­16 contain regulations in force as of January 1; Titles 17­27 contain regulations in force as of April 1 and so on. It should be noted that, while the regulations are often reprinted in unofficial sources such as looseleaf services, there is no complete unofficial or annotated version of the C.F.R. as there is for the United States Code. The C.F.R. can be searched on LEXIS in the GENFED library (CFR file) as well as in the combined CFR/FEDREG file called ALLREG. On WESTLAW, the current C.F.R. can be searched in the CFR database. Earlier editions of the CFR for 1984­1992 can be searched in the CFRYY databases, where "YY" indicates the last two digits of the year of the C.F.R. Looseleaf Services

Regulations are often reprinted in specialized looseleaf services. For example, current tax regulations are published in Standard Federal Tax Reporter. The text of current. environmental regulations are found in Environment Reporter.


  • Recently promulgated federal agency regulations can be found using the monthly Federal Register Index (LOCATION: RESERVE). This index is cumulated quarterly and annually. This index can be difficult to use because regulations are listed alphabetically by issuing agency rather than by topic.
  • The CIS Index to the Federal Register (LOCATION: RESERVE and LL1) can be more useful than the Federal Register Index because it indexes regulations by both subject and agency. It is published weekly with annual cumulations.
  • Several indexes are available to locate regulations published in the Code of Federal Regulations. The federal government issues an annual subject index to the C.F.R., the CFR Index and Finding Aids, which can be difficult to use because few subject entries are included. Two commercially produced indexes are more detailed: CIS's Index to the Code of Federal Regulations and Bowker's Code of Federal Regulations Index (LOCATION: RESERVE and LL1).
  • A researcher can locate regulations promulgated under the authority of a federal statutes using U.S.C., U.S.C.A., or U.S.C.S. citation. The CFR Index and Finding Aids volume includes a "Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules" in the back of the volume. It lists every statute and presidential document listed as authority for a particular regulation in the C.F.R.. The U.S.C.S. CFR and Finding Aids volume contains the same "Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules" as well as a reverse table listing C.F.R. citations and giving the citation in U.S.C.S. for the statutory authority under which regulations were promulgated.
  • U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S., in the annotations following a statutory section, often provide citations to related federal regulations. Specialized looseleaf services, which are updated frequently, are a quick way of obtaining the most current text of a regulation on a particular subject. The services have detailed subject indexes and helpful finding tables which assist the researcher in locating regulations in its volumes.
  • Federal regulations are also available on WESTLAW in the CFR and FR databases, and on LEXIS in the GENFED library (the CFR and FEDREG files). Regulations can also be found in the special subject databases/libraries on each system.


Although each volume of the C.F.R. is revised annually, at some point during the year regulations could be a year or more out of date. Since administrative regulations change frequently, it is imperative that the researcher determine whether there have been recent changes to a particular regulation. This is accomplished in a series of simple steps using a part of the C.F.R./Federal Register publication system called List of Sections Affected (LSA). The LSA lists regulations in the Federal Register which amend sections of the C.F.R.. LSA pamphlets are published monthly by the Office of the Federal Register.

  1. After locating your regulation in the C.F.R. volume, check the revision date on the front cover of the volume. For example, at this writing, Part 53 of Title 40 (Protection of the Environment), was revised July 1, 1993.
  2. Use the most recent issue of LSA, which at this writing is June 1994. Checking inside the front cover of the pamphlet, find the listing for Titles 28­41 which will include Title 40. The listing indicates changes for Title 40 from the revision date of the C.F.R. volume (July 1, 1993) through the date of the LSA pamphlet (June 3, 1994).
  3. Inside the pamphlet, titles of C.F.R. volumes are listed sequentially. Under each title number are listed first final regulation, and then proposed regulations by section numbers, with an indication of whether they have been revised, added, redesignated, or corrected, and the location of the new or amending regulation in the Federal Register.
  4. Using the June 1994 LSA the regulations in Title 40 C.F.R. have been undated through June 30, 1994. Since regulations change frequently, it is necessary to check the last issue of the Federal Register for the month of July. The last few pages of this issue of the Federal Register contain the same List of Sections Affected tables as found in the LSA pamphlet. Again, locate your title number and section number to see if there were any changes to your regulation in July.
  5. Then, to be absolutely certain there are no recent regulations amending your regulation, check the last issue of the Federal Register received by the Library for the month of August. Turn to the last few pages of the issue and check the cumulative List of Sections Affected tables. If your title and section number do not appear in the table, then you are safe in assuming that the particular regulations you are researching in the C.F.R. are still good law.
  6. Specialized looseleaf services as mentioned above provide a quick way of locating the most current text of a regulation. The publishers of these services completely revise the pages of the regulations when they have been changed in any way.


It is possible to check for judicial treatment of a regulation using Shepard's Code of Federal Regulations Citations (LOCATION: LL1). It includes citations to judicial interpretations and treatments of regulations in federal courts since about 1949, in state courts and law reviews since 1977, and in ALR annotations.


Administrative Conference of the United States. A Guide to Federal Agency Rulemaking. Washington, DC: Administrative Conference of the United States, 1991. (LOCATION: KF5407 .A616 1991)

Coleman, Barbara J. Through the Corridors of Power: A Citizen's Guide to Federal Rulemaking. Washington, DC: OMB Watch, 1987. (LOCATION: KF5407 .Z9C64 1987)

The Federal Register: What It Is And How To Use It: A Guide For the User of the Federal Register. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration, 1992. (LOCATION: RESERVE and SL3: KF70 .A18).

Germaine Leahy
Head of Reference Department