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Georgetown Law Library

Administrative Law Research Guide

This guide outlines the federal administrative process and materials generated.


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Finding Regulations

Usually research into federal regulations will begin with the Code of Federal Regulations. There are three methods that may be used to locate federal regulations:

  • searching the full text online using Lexis, Westlaw, or the Web
  • using a looseleaf service
  • using printed indexes to the CFR and the Federal Register

The National Archives and Records Administration web site includes a detailed Federal Register Tutorial.

A. Online Services

ProQuest Regulatory Insight is a great place to start. Both the CFR and Federal Register are online in full text on Lexis, Westlaw and the Web, so full text searching is available. New issues of the Federal Register are online the day they are published.

B. Looseleaf Services

Another way to find relevant regulations is to use a looseleaf service which collects and reprints agency regulations in a particular subject area. These topical looseleaf services focus on the work of one of the major agencies and provide up-to-date, annotated texts of federal regulations in their subject areas. Note, however, that not all regulations are covered by a looseleaf service. 

C. CFR Index, West's Code of Federal Regulations: General Index & CIS Index to the Code of Federal Regulations

The Code is accompanied by a volume entitled "Index and Finding Aids," most of which consists of an index of broad subject headings and agency names. Additionally, West publishes a multi-volume index to the CFR which is more extensive in indexing. West's Code of Federal Regulations: General Index is located with the CFR in the Reading Room. For historical research, a better place to start is Congressional Information Service's Index to the Code of Federal Regulations . This four volume index, which the library subscribed to from 1977 - 2001, was revised annually and provides highly detailed indexing of the CFR by subject and geographic location.

D. Federal Register Index & CIS Federal Register Index

The official Federal Register Index is published monthly and cumulated annually. It consists of a consolidation of the entries in each issue's table of contents. Entries are arranged by agency, not by subject. Within each agency's listing, rules, proposed rules, and notices are listed alphabetically by subject.

There is an annual subject index for the years 1936-1975 (KF70 .A2 Index YEAR). A much more thorough index to the Federal Register was published between 1984 and 1998 by Congressional Information Service (KF70 .A2 Index).