Congress transfers legislative authority to agencies under the delegation doctrine. Rulemaking is one of the main functions of agencies. Administrative rules (also known as regulations) are adopted by agencies and considered primary legal authority. The process of rule making is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act and requires the publication of proposed rules, a period for comment, participation in decision making, and the adoption and publication of final rules.
Federal regulations can located in many ways, such as using references in secondary sources and through cross-references from statutes to regulations in an annotated code. Individual agency websites are also generally excellent places to find their relevant regulations and proposed regulations. In addition, several reliable online sources can be searched in various ways. These sources include the large commercial database vendors (passwords required), LexisNexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg, and federal government has several free resources the research can use to find regulations, including FDSys, Regulations.gov, eCFR, and Congress.gov.
The Federal Register (F.R.) has been the official daily publication of the executive branch since 1936. It includes a variety of information about agency activities (such as notices, meetings, proposed and final regulations, and Presidential executive orders and proclamations). Proposed and final regulations are accompanied by extensive explanation and background about the purpose of the action and the comments received. This information is often useful in interpreting regulations, in the same way that legislative history is used to interpret statutes. For help with using the Federal Register, visit the National Archives’ tutorial page The Federal Register: What It Is and How to Use It.
The full text of the Federal Register may be found electronically through a variety of sources. The are listed below.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the annual codification of the final rules published in theFederal Register. The CFR is divided into 50 titles that represent broad subject areas. Title 3 of the CFR contains presidential proclamations, executive orders, and other presidential documents that are required to be published in the Federal Register. Each title is revised once a year officially; the cover of each print booklet indicates the date of last revision. Electronic versions are updated more frequently. The CFR can be found online via commercial databases and freely available on government websites.
The President of the United States issues a wide variety of documents, including executive orders and proclamations, messages to Congress, agency reorganization plans, and miscellaneous speeches, remarks, and letters. Many of these materials are included in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and are also compiled into other publications.