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Federal Register

Page history last edited by Rhianna Williams 15 years ago

Searching in the Federal Register


When looking through the paper Federal Register there is a monthly index and 12 month cumulative index.  However, there is also online access to the Federal Register through GPO Access which allows users to perform a keyword search. 


To search regulations up for comment or change go to: www.regulations.gov 


The Federal Register is updated daily Monday through Friday by 6p.m., except for federal holidays. [1]



What is the Federal Register?


Offices of the Executive Branch like the President, the Department of Transportation or Office of Government Ethics, issue their own rules and regulations that are enforced like law, but do not go through the process of law like a bill. For information on these departments you may look in a couple of places. You may first want to try the web, if you have access, since all of the current agencies have web sites. Or you may enjoy flipping through the United States Government Manual which is an annual publication. Inside you will find organizational charts of the US government, listings of the people in agency posts like the Secretary of State, Chief of Staff etc.  The United States Government Manual can be found under SuDocs number: AE 2.108/2:year.


For an example of a federal agency that issues its own rules and regulations, lets do a quick history of the Department of Agriculture:


"The Department of Agriculture (USDA) was created by act of May 15, 1862 (7 U.S.C. 2201)."  (Gov Manual 2005, 101) This act to establish the department of agriculture outlined the duties of this department. Their first responcibility "shall be to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture... and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants" (12 USSL 387). The Commissioner of Agriculture is appointed by the President and is required to make an annual report to the President and Congress.



During the 1930's congress delegated more and more responsibility to federal departments and agencies in the form of authority to issue detailed regulations dealing with social and environmental issues.[2] These are the Federal Regulations issued by agencies like OSHA or the EPA. At the time however, there was no central publication system. People were notified of new regulations by publications in the local newspaper or such.[3]  Also, no one kept a public record of all published regulations, which made finding regulations difficult.


In 1934 congress created the Federal Register Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 15). This act does a few things it:


1. Requires documents to be filed by the Federal Register

2. Places documents in the register for public inspection.

3. Provides official notice of a document's existence.


All of this provided for a unified and organized publication of all federal regulations. Later new dimensions were added to the Federal Registary system through the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946. This act:


1. Introduced as a general requirement (with stated exceptions) the right of the public to participate in the rulemaking process by commenting on proposed rules

2. Required that the effective date for a regulation be not less than 30 days from the date of publication unless there was good cause for an earlier date

3. Provided for publication of agency statements of organization and procedural laws.


Since regulations are enforced like laws, but are not approved by congress it is very important that these regulations are put out for public review.  So portions of the Federal Registar are reserved for regulations to be posted for public review and comments before they go into effect.  The public can comment on the regulations at: www.regulations.gov


For More Information:


University of Michigan: http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/fedlaws.html#fedreg


Related Wiki Pages

Federal government information


Questions and Comments




(7 U.S.C. 2201)


[1] U.S. Government Printing Office. (2004, November 16). Federal Register: About. Retrieved November 12, 2007, from http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/about.html


[2]  Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. (1992). The Federal Register: What it is and How to Use It: A Guide for the User of the Federal  Register-Code of Federal Regulations System. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.


[3] Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. (2006) The Federal Register: March 14, 1936 - March 14, 2006. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration.  Retrieved November 6, 2007, from http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/the-federal-register/history.pdf


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