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Federal Administrative Law: A Pathfinder

Prepared by:

Renee Rastorfer,
Head of Research Services

Updated September 2014

Primary Sources
Secondary Sources


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Equal Economic Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) - these are names familiar to all. These are agencies. One of the simplest explanations of why we have agencies is that “[they are] usually created to deal with current crises or to redress serious social problems,” and in some instances, to distribute a social good.1 This explanation calls to mind the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Social Security Administration, and more recently, our response to 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security.

Another standard explanation for the existence of agencies is that Congress is not flexible enough, nor does it have the expertise required to implement legislation it has passed. For example, Congress may pass legislation decreeing that families are entitled to time off from work after a child’s birth. But it falls to the appropriate agency, often designated in the enacted legislation, to work out the details to implement how the statutory plan will be carried out.

Agencies are created by statute and an agency’s mission is also specified by statute. For example, the Economic Regulatory Administration (ERA) was created by the Department of Energy Organization Act [cite: 42 USC § 3502(5)] and the Consumer Product Safety Act created the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 2 In addition to creating an agency, Congress also delegates to it the authority to make rules and regulations. Dean Dan Rodriguez of Boalt Hall Law School reports there are three secrets to performing good administrative law research: "1. Look to the underlying legislation. 2. Look to the underlying legislation. 3. Look to the underlying legislation." 3 The researcher must be familiar with the originating statute (called the agency organic act) for a particular agency, as well as any statute containing the agency’s mandate, if separate from the originating act, and any statute administered by the agency (example: EPA administers the Clean Water Act). Thus, the first section of this pathfinder lists statutes to be considered by the researcher. The researcher must also be aware that statutes creating agencies may also contain specific procedural requirements necessary to carry out the statute’s substantive authority. These additional requirements may eliminate, supplement, or substitute for the procedural requirements found in generally applicable agency laws, like the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 500, et seq.

Agencies are found throughout the Executive branch, within and outside of Cabinet-level departments. 4 Agencies are structured in different ways, and have different purposes. Some agencies are headed by a director or other administrator, who serves at the pleasure of the President. 5 Others are directed by a governing board; such boards are subject to rules regarding party membership and term overlap. Members of such a governing board may only be removed for cause. 6 The protections offered this latter type of agency makes them more independent than other agencies. Additionally, some agencies exist to administer federal programs, such as the Social Security Administration. Others place more focus on regulatory activity, including promulgating regulations and adjudicating disputes, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).7 The purpose and structure of all agencies should be found in the agency organic act or other statutes governing the agency.


This pathfinder is designed to help the researcher find relevant administrative law and resources to understand that law. This pathfinder will describe sources useful in describing and identifying administrative agencies and the primary sources of administrative law, including sources of administrative regulations and adjudications. Additionally, it will recommend secondary sources useful in researching administrative law.

Primary Sources


While researchers generally think of agencies as being connected to regulations, the power of agencies is delegated through statutes. These statutes create the agency, provide its structure, and guide its actions. Researchers must consider not only statutes specific to the agency in question, but those that govern the action of agencies generally.

The statute creating the agency (agency organic act)
The statute containing the agency’s mandate, if separate from the organic act
Any statute administered by the agency
An efficient way to find the agency organic act and mandate is to use The United States Government Manual or the Federal Regulatory Directory discussed below. Be aware that statutes creating agencies may also specify particular procedural requirements necessary to carry out the statute’s substantive authority. These additional requirements may eliminate, supplement or substitute for the procedural requirements found in the generally applicable agency laws. Another source for this information is the agency's website, although the information may be listed under headings such as FOIA, Library, or Legal. Any of these sources may also list statutes administered by an agency.

Administrative Procedures Act8
This general statute is applicable to all agencies; it requires that they publish notice of proposed rules in the Federal Register, and allow a notice and comment period for public response.

National Environmental Policy Act9
This requires agencies to make an environmental impact statement when they take actions affecting the environment.

Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 199010
This statute establishes a framework for non-adversarial rulemaking among agencies and interested parties.

Regulatory Flexibility Act11
This statute requires agencies to publish a regulatory agenda twice per year.

Federal Advisory Committee Act12
This requires agencies to follow certain procedures when they create or use advisory committees.

Information Quality Act (sometimes also known as the Data Quality Act)13
This act requires agencies to follow certain procedures to ensure the accuracy of their data.


Regulations have been described, broadly, as “any attempt by the government to control the behavior of citizens, corporations, or subgovernments.” 14 More specifically, regulations are “agency action which regulates the future conduct of either groups of persons or a single person; it is essentially legislative in nature, not only because it operates in the future but also because it is primarily concerned with policy considerations. . . . Typically, the issues relate not to the evidentiary facts, . . . but rather to the policy-making conclusions to be drawn from the facts....” 15 Regulations are promulgated by agencies to carry out the intentions of statutes.

There are two government publications which comprehensively publish federal regulations: the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations.

The Federal Register

Regulations (proposed, interim and final) first appear in print in the Federal Register (FR). The FR is the official medium for notifying the public of official agency actions.16 The FR is published in paper every business day, but there are online equivalents.

Beginning in 1936, and pursuant to the Federal Register Act, publication of a regulation in the FR:

(1) provides official notice of a document’s existence and its contents;
(2) establishes the text as a true copy of the original document;
(3) indicates the date of the regulation’s issuance; and
(4) provides evidence that is acceptable to a court of law (prima facie evidence).17

Documents that appear in the FR, in order of appearance, are Presidential documents; rules and regulations; proposed rules; notices, such as application deadlines or license revocations; and notices of Sunshine Act meetings. In addition, agencies sometimes provide section-by-section analysis of a final rule, summarize comments received on proposed sections, and provide the agency or department’s responses to the comments, all of which is potentially useful information when doing research. Regulations first appear in the FR chronologically and later, in subject arrangement, in the CFR.

The FR for the last few years is available in print in the Federal section of the Law Library at Stack 232. Earlier issues are available electronically. See, e.g. HeinOnline.

FR Index and Finding Aids

Index: An Index to the FR is published monthly and also cumulated for 12 months as part of the FR series. These indexes are kept with the print FR material. The index is organized by agency name, then items are listed “within the categories of Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices. Executive Orders, Proclamations, and other documents from the President are listed under Presidential Documents.”18

CFR Parts Affected: Each issue of the FR contains a section entitled CFR Parts Affected in This Issue that follows the Contents section. Use this section to find out whether any action has been taken with regard to a regulation in which you are interested. Additionally, in the last issue published each month, in the Reader Aids section at the back of the issue, there is a cumulative CFR Parts Affected which covers the whole preceding month. Chapter 8 of Finding the Law has detailed instructions on how to use the FR including a section on how to use the CFR Parts Affected page to see if a regulation in which you are interested is affected by any changes.19

Reader Aids: Located at the back of each issue, this section has phone numbers, online resources, finding aids, reminders, and notice of recently enacted public laws.

FR Online

The online versions of the FR are usually more up-to-date than the print version, due to printing and shipping times. However, always be sure to check the currency information of online materials.

Westlaw: The FR is available on Westlaw, in the following databases:

Federal Register 1981 - Current (FR)
Federal Register Table of Contents (FR-TOC)
Federal Register 1936 - Current (FR-ALL)
Federal Register Archive (1936 - 1980) (FR-OLD)

Each new issue is available online the same day as its publication. Westlaw also gives you the option of searching the FR by practice areas, so for example, the researcher can limit a directory to education issues by searching in FED-FR, or limit to military law, by searching in FMIL-FR, and so on. Abbreviations for different areas of law can be found in the Westlaw Directory, under U.S. Federal Materials>Administrative Rules & Regulations>Federal Register Organized by Area of Practice.

Lexis: Lexis has one comprehensive Federal Register database at Legal>Federal Legal - U.S.>Federal Register. Here, too, each new issue is available online the same day as its publication.

HeinOnline: HeinOnline provides a complete facsimile run of the Federal Register in the Federal Register Library.

FYsys, GPO's federal digital system. This official site has the FR available online from 1994 (Volume 54) to the present. The GPO Access website also allows the researcher to examine the Table of Contents for issues dating from 1998 to the present.

Code of Federal Regulations

Published since the late 1930s, The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the most complete source of regulations for the federal government. The CFR is an annually revised codification (or subject arrangement) of the general and permanent regulations published in the Federal Register (FR). The CFR contains “documents of each agency of the Government having general applicability and legal effect, . . . relied upon by the agency as authority for, or . . . invoked or used by it in the discharge of, its activities or functions.” 44 U.S.C. § 1510(a). The CFR is divided into 50 titles representing broad areas subject to federal regulation. The 50 titles of the CFR do not have a one-to-one correlation with the titles of the United States Code although there are instances when the titles match up. The entire CFR is republished each year, in four quarterly installments as follows:

Title 1 through Title 16 as of January 1
Title 17 through Title 27 as of April 1
Title 28 through Title 41 as of July 1
Title 42 through Title 50 as of October 1

Each year’s cover is a different color for quick reference. This is one paper resource that is NOT updated by a pocket part. The researcher may use the latest List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA) to update regulations, coupled with the issues of the FR published since the date of the LSA.

CFR citations are unique. For example, 42 C.F.R. § 1.1 refers to Title 42, part 1, section 1. At the end of the Table of Contents for each part, there is a citation to the statutory authority for that regulation as well as a reference to “source.” The source note contains the citation and date of the Federal Register in which the part was last published in full.

There are several CFR finding aids and indexes.

CFR Index and Finding Aids. Law Library Stack 232B, 2nd Floor. This officially-published volume is revised annually and consists of an index of subjects and agencies. It is often criticized for not having much depth. However, if you have a citation to a specific statute or presidential document, refer to the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules, within the CFR Index. With this finding aid, one can find all regulations that have been promulgated pursuant to a particular statute or presidential document.

West’s Code of Federal Regulations: General Index (West). Law Library Stack 232B, 2nd Floor. This is a 4-volume (as compared to the single volume official index), commercially-produced resource, with good depth-of-indexing.

List of CFR Sections Affected. Law Library Stack 232B, 2nd Floor. This monthly publication is designed to lead users of the CFR to any action taken (and published in the Federal Register) that may affect the relevant regulation.


The online versions of the CFR are usually more up to date than the print version. However, do not assume the online version is current to the viewing date – check for currency information.

Westlaw: The CFR is available on Westlaw, in the following databases, which the researcher can access easily by putting the database identifier (shown in parenthesis) into the “search for a database” box on the left-hand side of the Westlaw home page. There are several CFR and regulatory databases available on Westlaw.

Code of Federal Regulations - Current Version (CFR)
Federal Regulation Tracking (US-REGTRK)
Regulation Tracking - All States & Federal (REGTRK)
Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) 

A series of CFR databases is available from the Westlaw Directory. Follow U.S. Federal Materials>Administrative Rules & Regulations>Code of Federal Regulations Organized by Area of Practice (with database identifiers of the form XXXX-CFR, where XXXX is a four letter topical abbreviation) and Code of Federal Regulations - Historical (with database identifiers of the form CFRXX, where XX is a two-digit year, e.g., CFR06 for 2006 regulations.) Historical data is available from 1984-2006.

LexisNexis: LexisNexis has the CFR and various sub-sets in the following databases, which the researcher can access easily by using the Find a Source function, or by navigating to Legal>Federal Legal - U.S.

CFR – Code of Federal Regulations
Code of Federal Regulations
Administrative Agency Materials>Federal Register and CFR, Combined

Additionally, Legal>Area of Law By Topic> allows the researcher to select the topic of interest, and then narrow to "Administrative Materials" or Regulations. This groups regulations across agencies that relate to the same area of law. For example, Legal>Area of Law By Topic>Pension & Benefits>Find Administrative Materials> includes the topical material from the CFR, as well as breaking out regulations from the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and the Social Security Administration.

HeinOnline: HeinOnline provides access to the Code of Federal Regulations, beginning from the CFR’s inception in 1938 through the present, offering a searchable and browsable database of page images. This publication is located in the Federal Register Library on Hein Online.

GPO Access: The federal government provides free access to the CFR online, from 1996 through the current year. There are two versions of the CFR available at this Web site: the CFR and the e-CFR. The CFR is in PDF and is only as up-to-date as its paper equivalent. The e-CFR is in HTML format and currency information is listed at the top of all pages. The e-CFR is not “an official legal edition of the CFR.” Only the current text is available under e-CFR, but it is updated on a daily basis.

A note to the researcher about searching for regulations using full-text searching in either the paid or free databases: regulations are often written in precise, idiosyncratic language. If you are new to the area of law, it is wiser to start your search in a print index where you will receive redirection to terms used in the index, rather than an unhelpful failure to return relevant results because you are not using the correct terminology.

Updating Regulation Research

As with any legal research, it is critical to update regulatory research. As mentioned above, the entire CFR is republished every year, in a quarterly cycle. There are no pocket parts for the CFR. Therefore, at various points of the year the CFR will be out of date and must be updated. Even if an online source is being used, the CFR may be slightly out of date; the CFR databases on either Westlaw or Lexis have information at the top of the screen (Lexis) or the bottom of the screen (Westlaw) concerning the date to which the regulation is current. The researcher is strongly urged to consult a legal research text for precise instructions,20 but the basic procedure is outlined here.

Check the monthly pamphlet entitled LSA: List of CFR Sections Affected, shelved beside the CFR, in the Federal section at Stack 232(b). The LSA lists Federal Register pages where any new or proposed rules affecting the relevant code provision appear. Because the LSA is cumulative, one only need check the most recent issue to bring the regulation up to date as of the dates listed on the opening page of the LSA.

Next, fill in the gap between the date of the LSA and the present date by using the Federal Register. Since there is an appreciable lag in receipt of the print FR, it may be best to use an online source for this segment. Remember from above that each issue of the FR contains a section entitled CFR Parts Affected in This Issue that follows the Contents section and, in the last issue published each month, there is a cumulative CFR Parts Affected which covers the whole preceding month. Use a combination of these two aids to verify your regulation to the present.

Examine any Federal Register citations revealed by the LSA or the CFR Parts Affected for their impact on the regulation being researched.

Finally, use either Shepard’s or KeyCite to find any cases that may affect the validity of the relevant regulation.



 Adjudication is the term used to describe the process by which agencies make final decisions on matters that arise under their statutes and regulations. 21 The decision-making process may involve fact finding and the application of agency regulations to factual situations. Although the role of precedent is less determinative in the agency setting than it is in Article III courts, it is important to know both what’s been done before, and what the later treatment of a particular decision has been.

Formal adjudication usually refers to adjudication conducted under Sections 554, 556, and 557 of the Administrative Procedures Act. Most agency hearings are conducted by an administrative law judge, who performs a function similar to that of a trial judge. The resulting decision can be appealed to a higher authority at the agency, and review of the final decision of the agency can generally be sought in federal court.

Formal opinions are usually written at the conclusion of a formal adjudication, and these may be found in official and unofficial sources. Unfortunately, finding the results of these adjudications is not as easy as finding case law from Article III courts. It is essential that the researcher be familiar with the publication procedure for the agency at issue. Some agencies publish official reports of their decisions. The chart below attempts to capture official and commercial report information for a selected group of agencies. Some of these official reports have finding aids; commercially published reports tend to have better finding aids. The chart below also reports the databases in which an agency’s decisions may be found, with the scope of the coverage in that database. As reported elsewhere in this pathfinder, it has become common for agencies to publish their opinions on their Web sites and that is noted in the chart as well.

The Role of Looseleaf Services

A looseleaf service is a resource used chiefly in heavily-regulated (and therefore, quickly changing) areas of law because they can be easily updated. The description “looseleaf” refers to the fact that this resource is (usually) contained in a ringed binder to facilitate inserting updating information. Because of its currency, a looseleaf service covering the agency of interest can be an invaluable resource in tracking down changes in a regulation. In addition to regulations, statutes, and sometimes forms in a practice area, looseleaf services often contain agency adjudications. Looseleaf services are often complicated to use, but print versions have a section entitled “How to use this resource” that can help a struggling researcher.

Sources for Administrative Decisions for Selected Agencies

Print looseleaf services, and increasingly, online versions of these services, are excellent sources of adjudications. These materials may be available as stand alone titles, or in conglomeration with other sources (as on Lexis and Westlaw). Below is a select list of these sources available at the Law Library, listed by agency. 22 Some of these sources are historical sets, and are no longer updated; they may still be valuable sources for research. Additionally some agencies have more than one associated reporter; the reporters may cover different areas of agency responsibility, may represent different time periods, or may merely be published by different parties. Online sources are noted below and may require a user name, barcode number, and PIN for off-campus access.

Civil Aeronautics Board
Civil Aeronautics Board Reports (1941-). KF2441 .A84. V. 1-106 (1939-84); LLMC (1939-78). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search using the name of the resource, i.e., Civil Aeronautics Board Reports, in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.
Consumer Product Safety Commission Product Safety and Liability Reporter (BNA 1973-). KF1296. A6 B8. Online (1996-present).
Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Law Reporter. Lexis (1971-present).
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Daily Labor Report. (BNA 1996-).
Federal Communications Commission

FCC Record. KF2765.1 .A57 U51. V. 14-19 (1999-2004) LLMC (1986-2004). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search using the name of the resource, i.e., FCC Record, in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Federal Communications Commission Reports: Decisions, Reports, and Orders of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States (1936-1986). KF 2765.1 .A57 U5. Series 1, v.1-Series 2, v.104 (1934-86) and LLMC series 1 (1934-65), series 2 (1965-86). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search using the name of the resource, i.e., Federal Communications Commission Reports: Decisions, Reports, and Orders of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States, in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Pike and Fischer Radio Regulation 2d. KF2803.4 .P5. v.1-52.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Federal Energy Guidelines: FERC Reports (1978-2007). KF2120.12 .A555. v.2-XX (1978-2007). Online (1981-present).

Public Utilities Reports. KF2087 .A26 P83. 1915-1985. and Westlaw (PUR; coverage varies by state).

Federal Home Loan Bank Board Federal Home Loan Bank Board Journal. Westlaw (FEBHHJ; 1980-84).
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Decisions of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (1979-present). Online.
Federal Maritime Commission

Decisions of the Federal Maritime Commission. KF1101 .A22 U5. LLMC (1942-87). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search using the name of the resource, i.e., Decisions of the Federal Maritime Commission, in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Pike and Fischer Shipping Regulation Reports. KF1101.5 .P5. v. 1-17 (1959-78).

Federal Power Commission Federal Power Commission Reports, Opinions, and Orders. KF2120.1 .A555. v.1-58 (1931-77).
Federal Reserve System

Federal Reserve Bulletin (1915-2005). Lexis (1970-present), Hein (1915-2005), LLMC (1915-90) Westlaw (1989-present). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search using the name of the resource, i.e., Federal Reserve Bulletin, in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Federal Reserve Regulatory Service. Lexis.

Federal Service Impasses Panel
Panel Release (1990-).
Federal Trade Commission


Federal Trade Commission Decisions. KF1611 .A2 U5. V. 1-128 (1915-99) LLMC (1915-99), Lexis (1949-present), and Westlaw (FATR-FTC, 1949-present).

Immigration and Naturalization Service

Administrative Decisions under Immigration and Nationality Laws. KF4821 .A55. V. 2-18 (1944-83); LLMC (1940-95). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search using the name of the resource in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Interpreter Releases. Westlaw (INTERREL, 1987-present).

Department of the Interior

Decisions of the Department of the Interior. KF5501 .A554. V. 1-101 (1881-1994), LLMC (1881-1994). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Opinions of the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior Relating to Indian Affairs, 1917-1974 (1979). KF5660 .A82. LLMC (1917-74). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search using the name of the resource, i.e., Opinions of the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior Relating to Indian Affairs, in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Gower Federal Service. Westlaw (GFS, 1970-present).

Interstate Commerce Commission

I.C.C., I.C.C.2d. KF2184 .A511, KF2184 .A5112. v.1-367 (1890-1984); V. 1-10 (1984-95).

Interstate Commerce Commission Reports. Motor Carrier Cases. KF2184 .A512. V. 1-133 (1930-86). LLMC (1935-78). To get this resource using LLMC, do a title search in WILDPAC, and click into the electronic resource link.

Merit Systems Protection Board
Decisions of the United States Merit Systems Protection Board. KF5338.1 .A55. V. 1-13 (1979-83), (1980-present), LLMC (1979-83).
National Labor Relations Board

Decisions and Orders of the National Labor Relations Board. KF3372 .A555. V.1-346 (1935-2007).

National Transportation Safety Board
National Transportation Safety Board Decisions. KF2172 .A2 T7. v.1-3 (1967-81); Lexis (1966-present), LLMC (1967-76).
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Issuances: Opinions and Decision of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with Selected Orders. KF2138.11 .A556, KF2138.11 .A557. V.1-22(1975-85), 1986-present. GPO Access (1997-2005), LLMC (1975-88); microfiche.
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Decisions. CD7061, Westlaw (FLB-OSRC, 1971-present), Lexis (1971-present).

Occupational Safety & Health Reporter. (BNA 1996-).

Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration
Pension and Benefits Reporter (BNA 1996-).
Securities and Exchange Commission

Decisions and Reports. KF 1444 .A555. v.1-56 (1934-2003). LLMC (1934-88).

Federal Securities Law Reporter (CCH 1974-). KF1436.5 .C66.

Securities Regulation and Law Report. KF1436.5 .B84.

Social Security Administration

Rulings. Cumulative Edition: Social Security Rulings on Federal Old-Age, Survivors, Disability, Supplemental Security Income, and Black Lung Benefits. KF3646 .A231. 1960-.

Unemployment Insurance Reporter: Federal and Home State (CCH 1934-). KF3673.4 C6.

Resources for Updating Decisions

KeyCite on Westlaw and Shepard’s on Lexis provide references to agency decisions cited in court cases and law review articles, as well as later agency decisions. Use the Shepard's Citation Formats link to properly format the citation of the decision you are updating. In KeyCite, use the Publications List for this assistance.


Secondary Sources

As always, when researching an unfamiliar area of law, it is wise to consult a good secondary source. The purpose of a secondary source is to bring to the researcher’s attention, quickly and efficiently, the major laws, regulations, cases, and issues underlying the matter researched. In addition to the looseleaf services described above, the following is a list of useful secondary sources. This list is not exhaustive and you will find others on the topic by searching WILDPAC or browsing.

Print Sources

Manuals and Guides

Attorney General’s Manual on the Administrative Procedure Act (W.W. Gaunt 1973). 3rd Floor, KF 5407 .A64 1973.
Immediately following the passage of the APA, agencies called on the Attorney General for advice with interpretation, since the Attorney General’s office had been heavily involved with the legislative process that resulted in the APA’s creation. The Attorney General’s office prepared this manual analyzing the APA’s provisions in light of the Attorney General’s experience with the Act.

The Federal Register: What It Is and How to Use It (1992). Ready Reference KF 70 .A34 F42.
This is a guide for users of the Federal Register published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. While it was intended to be used in conjunction with workshops given by the Office of the Federal Register, it also "provide[s] guidelines for using the Federal Register and related publications, as well as an explanation of how to solve a sample research problem, and a discussion of how the consumer can be a participant in the regulatory process.”23

The United States Government Manual 2009-2010, Ready Reference KF 5101 .A323 and Electronic.
This is the official directory of the agencies of the federal government, as well as quasi-official agencies, that gives the statutory authority, jurisdiction, major publications of the agencies and a directory of agency personnel. One can get the agency background necessary before beginning research on a particular agency through the Manual.


Federal Regulatory Directory (15th ed. CQ Press 2012). Ready Reference KF 5406 .A15.
he Directory will help the researcher understand the structure and authority of more than 100 regulatory bodies, and jump start research with lists of legislation pertinent to each agency. One unusual feature is that this work lists publications of the agencies analyzed, including where the researcher may find decisions. The Directory also contains biographies, contact information, and organizational charts, among other things. It is commercially produced, generally more up-to-date than the Government Manual, and is better indexed. This is an invaluable resource giving historical analysis of specific agencies, current direction, and current issues.

Federal Yellow Book (Leadership Directories). Ready Reference JK 6 .F45.
This who’s who of federal departments and agencies indicates the structure of agencies as well as contact information.

Specialized Legal Research (Penny Hazelton ed. Wolters Kluwer 1987-). Ready Reference KF 240 .S64 1987 (updated).
This looseleaf binder covers thirteen general areas of administrative law. It identifies sources of publications specific to these areas of regulation.

Washington Information Directory (Congressional Quarterly). Ready Reference F 192.3 .W33.
Organized by subject, which may be helpful in determining which agency has jurisdiction over a particular matter, this directory has scope and contact information of federal agencies and other organizations.

Treatises and Practice Guides

Alfred C. Aman, Jr. & William T. Mayton, Administrative Law (2d ed. West 2001). Reserve KF 5402 .A8 2001.
This treatise provides a comprehensive analysis of administrative law, including how power is delegated to agencies, the action of agencies and control over that action, and access to information about agency action.

Robert Berring & Elizabeth Edinger, Finding the Law (12th ed. West 2005). Reserve KF 240 .C5382 2005.
Chapter 8 of this book is a great source of instruction on how to conduct administrative law research.

Ronald Cass, Colin S. Diver, & Jack M. Beermann, Administrative Law: Cases and Material (4th ed. Aspen 2002). KF 5402 .A4 C39 2002.
This case book is included because it has exceptionally good explanations of the history of agencies, the Administrative Procedure Act, and other aspects of agency law for which it may be helpful to have a solid foundation.

Richard J. Pierce, Jr., Administrative Law Treatise (5th ed. Aspen Law & Business 2010, with 2012 Supp.). KF 5402 .D32 2010.
This three-volume set covers the development and foundations of administrative law, rulemaking, adjudications, review of administrative decisions, and remedies.

Cornelius M. Kerwin & Scott R. Furlong, Rulemaking: How Government Agencies Write Law and Make Policy (4th ed. CQ Press 2011). KF 5411  .K47 2011.

Charles H. Koch, Jr., Administrative Law and Practice (3rd ed. West 2010). Reserve KF 5407 .K63 2010.
Another three-volume set, this comprehensive guide describes the internal administrative processes and oversight of these processes; adjudications and administrative oversight; and administrative review of, and litigation over, administrative decisions. These volumes are kept up to date with pocket parts.

Richard J. Pierce, Jr., Sidney A. Shapiro & Paul R. Verkuil, Administrative Law and Process (5th ed. Foundation Press 2009). Reserve KF 5402 .P53 2009.
This textbook discusses the political and legal natures of administrative processes, control over administrative discretion by each of the three branches of government, and access to administrative information.

John H. Reese, Administrative Law Principles and Practice (West 1995). KF  5402 .A4 R44 1995.
Although a case book, this text has well-written explanations of various aspects of administrative law.

Peter L. Strauss, Administrative Justice in the United States (2d ed. Carolina Academic Press 2002). Reserve KF 5402 .S87 2002.
This treatise provides a valuable explanation of the constitutional underpinnings of administrative law, as well as its scope. It also discusses adjudications and judicial review of adjudications, and possible liability of administrative agencies.


Study Aids

William F. Fox, Jr., Understanding Administrative Law (6th ed. Lexis 2012). Reserve KF 5402 .F68 2012.

William F. Funk & Richard H. Seamon, Administrative Law: Examples and Explanations (4th ed. Aspen Law & Business 2012). Reserve KF 5402 .F86 2012.

Ernest Gellhorn & Ronald M. Levin, Administrative Law and Process in a Nutshell (5th ed. West 2006). Reserve KF 5402 .Z9 G4 2006.

Peter H. Schuck, Foundations of Administrative Law (2nd ed. Thomson/West 2004). Reserve KF 5402 .A5 F68 2004.

Russell L. Weaver & Karen A. Jordan, Questions & answers. Administrative law : multiple choice and short answer questions and answers (LexisNexis 2010). Reserve KF 5402 .Z9 W4 2010.



ABA Administrative Law Review. LexisNexis has 1995/96-present.

Administrative & Regulatory Law News. KF 325.115 .A42. Library has v. 19-present (1994-present); WestlawNext has selected coverage, v. 19-present (1994-present).

Administrative Law Journal of the American University. HeinOnline has v. 1-10 (1987-96); LexisNexis has v. 7-10 (1993-96); WestlawNext has v. 7-10 (1993-1996), selected coverage, v. 1-6 (1987-1992).

Administrative Law Review. Library has v.54-present (2002-present); HeinOnline has v. 1-58 (1949-2008); WestlawNext has selected coverage, v. 39-present (1987-present).

Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary (previously Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges). HeinOnline has 1981-(rolling cut off point); LexisNexis has v. 17-present (1997-present); WestlawNext has v. 20-present (2000-present).

Online Sources

The Agency’s Website
A good way to bring together all of the statutes that may be at issue is an agency’s website. For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a link entitled “Statutes,” found on the Office of General Counsel page, that brings to light 46 statutes over which the FTC has administrative and enforcement responsibility, as well as information on the FTC’s statutory investigative and law enforcement authority.

As an additional example, the EEOC provides relevant EEOC federal laws; new, proposed, and existing EEOC-related regulations; the EEOC Compliance Manual; and statistics.

Of course, not all agency websites are created equal and you will have to determine how up-to-date the material is, but they are always an important source to consider.
This website is designed to assist researchers in locating a particular government website. It is useful when an agency's status or organizational placement is unknown, e.g., the affiliation of the National Library of Medicine with the National Institutes of Health.

ABA Administrative Procedures Database Archive
This archive makes available information regarding federal and state administrative procedures, including a comprehensive bibliography of materials by the Administrative Conference of the United States. It was designed to assist practitioners in sharing administrative law information, and includes links to other websites in the topic.
This site makes proposed regulations easily accessible for public notice and comment.




1. Ernest Gellhorn & Ronald M. Levin, Administrative Law and Process in a Nutshell 1 (5th ed. West 2006). Reserve KF5402 .Z9 G4 2006. Back

2. 15 U.S.C. § 2051, et seq. Back

3. Robert Berring & Elizabeth Edinger, Finding the Law 230 (12th ed. West 2005). Reserve KF240 .C5382 2005. Back

4. A list of agencies of various types is located in 5 USC §§101 et seq. Back

5. See, e.g., The Office of Management and Budget, The United States Government Manual 93 (2007). Back

6. See, e.g., The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, The United States Government Manual 486. Back

7. The United States Government Manual 384, 510. Back

8. 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq. Back

9. 42 U.S.C. § 4321, specifically § 4334. Back

10. 5 U.S.C. § 561, et seq. Back

11. 5 U.S.C. § 601, et seq. Back

12. 5 U.S.C. App. 2, § 1. Back

13. 44 U.S.C. §§ 3504(d)(1) and 3516. Back

14. Kenneth Meier, quoted in the Federal Regulatory Directory 2 (12th ed. CQ Press, 2006) Ready Reference KF5406 .A15. Back

15. Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Manual on the Administrative Procedure Act 16 (W.W. Gaunt 1973) (1947). KF5407 .A64 1973. Back

16. 44 U.S.C. § 1504. Back

17. 44 U.S.C. § 1501, et seq. Back

18. Federal Register Index inside cover. Back

19. Robert Berring & Elizabeth Edinger, Finding the Law 235-39 (12th ed. West 2005). Reserve KF240 .C5382 2005. Back

20. See, e.g., Berring & Edinger, Finding the Law 225-76. Reserve KF240 .C5382 2005. Back

21. William F. Funk, Administrative Law: Examples and Explanations 70 (Aspen 2006). Reserve KF5402 .A4 F86 2006. Back

22. Derived from Veronica Maclay, Selected Sources of United States Agency Decisions, 16 Gov't Pub. Rev. 271 (1989). Back

23. Office of the Federal Register, The Federal Register: What It Is and How to Use It (1992). Ready Reference KF70 .A34 F42. Back



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