Skip to Main Content
site header image

Cost-Effective Legal Research: Free Sources for Administrative Materials

Administrative or regulatory law is comprised of the various rules and actions that are enacted by administrative bodies such as the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Education or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Agencies have different powers depending on whether or not they are considered executive, legislative or independent. 

Rulemaking and decision-making are the main mechanisms through which agencies act. This means the role of administrative agencies is to make rules and enforce or adjudicate them. Administrative rules, also referred to interchangeably as regulations, are adopted by agencies and are considered primary legal authority.

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§551 et. seq. gives the requirements, standards and procedures for rulemaking, hearings and adjudication. Congress makes laws that give agencies the authority to issue and enforce regulations.

Code of Federal Regulations

  • e-CFR - The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) provides a way of exploring the Code of Federal Regulations as it exists today and at points in time back to January 2017. Browsable and searchable by keyword, as well as CFR citation and relevant U.S. Code section.
  • Govinfo - Provides access to publications from three branches of the Federal Government. Browsable and searchable by keyword and CFR citation. To search the full text of the CFR, use the advanced search interface.
  • Legal Information Institute - provides access to current print versions electronically, Browsable and searchable by citation.

Federal Register

  • Govinfo -Provides access to publications from three branches of the Federal Government. Browsable and searchable by keyword. To search the full text of the Federal Register, use the advanced search interface.
  • - Filter search results by agency, topic (C.F.R. indexing terms), or type of document. Search by index.
  • - Provides access to current proposed regulations open for comment. Includes a form for submitting comments. 
  • Library of Congress - Provides access to digitized versions of the print Federal Register offered as PDFs. Browsable by volume.

State Administrative Regulations

Online access to state materials varies widely. Georgetown University Law Library has created state research guides for information about individual jurisdictions.



Agency Decisions & Publications

Administrative agencies are typically charged with enforcing the rules they promulgate. In this enforcement capacity, an agency may issue a variety of formal and informal adjudicative materials, including guidance, opinions, rulings, memoranda, orders, directives, decisions, or arbitrations. When looking into agency actions and regulations, finding out where your agency's decisions are published can be a tricker part of the research process than looking for judicial court decisions. Unlike federal rules, there is no single source for accessing all adjudicative materials, and researchers may need to review a variety of resources to find a particular document, if indeed it was published and made publicly available.

In this section, we will look at publication sources for agency decisions, starting with official publications, subsrciption databases like Lexis & Westlaw, as well as online internet sites. 

Tracking Agency Rule-Making & Decision-Making

Taggart Workshop - March 27, 2024

Research Guides

Reference Appointments

The Taggart Law Library is here to help! Schedule an appointment with a librarian or chat with us using our online chat feature. Open to ONU Law students, faculty, staff, and alumni. 

chat loading...