Finding Federal Regulations

Regulations are how a government administers its laws. The United States government publishes proposed regulations in the Federal Register (daily Monday through Friday). Each entry includes the text of a proposed regulation, an address to send written comments to, a deadline for those comments, and (occasionally) supplementary information. Once the deadline has passed, the agency will review all comments received and (usually) publish the final version of the regulation. Occasionally, when changes are needed, an amended version of the proposed regulation will be published with a request for further comment. When the regulation is finalized, the final version is then published in the Federal Register with an effective date. These individual regulations are then cumulated and codified into one of 50 subject titles in the Code of Federal Regulations, each title of which is revised annually.

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Regulations.gov

The Regulations.gov website is the central online rulemaking portal of the United States government. It is being offered as a public service to increase participation in the Federal government’s regulatory activities. Regulations.gov enables you to search, view, and comment on proposed Federal regulations from approximately 160 Federal Departments and Agencies through a single Web site. The site allows visitors to search by keyword or Department or Agency to find proposed regulations. Each entry provides a quick link to a comment form so that visitors can type in their comments and submit them to the appropriate Department or Agency. The consolidated site enables visitors to easily move from one regulation to the next. By providing electronic access to open rulemaking actions, Regulations.gov gives citizens a greater opportunity to provide their views.

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How Do I Find Regulations By Subject?

Use either LexisNexis Academic’s Federal Regulations search page, the Westlaw Campus database or the Code of Federal Regulations database from GPO and search by keyword subject. Then check the Federal Register database from GPO Access to find the latest final and proposed regulations.

LexisNexis Academic (WTAMU only)
Full-text of the Code of Federal Regulations from LexisNexis. Select Code of Federal Regulation as your Source Material and search by full-text or citation. Be sure to read the Search Tips before searching.
Westlaw Campus (WTAMU only)
Full text of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register from Westlaw Campus. Searchable by citation, or full text. Make sure you select either Code of Federal Regulations or Federal Register under the "Statutes & Legislative Materials" heading. Coverage of the Federal Register begins with 45 F.R. (July 1, 1980). You will be required to accept an online license agreement to access the database. Click on the icon for scope of coverage for help on searching. Access to this database is limited, so please log off when you are finished.
Code of Federal Regulations (GPO Access)
Browse specific titles or search by keyword or citation. When searching, remember that phrases must be in quotes (e.g., "nuclear regulatory commission") and that boolean connectors must be in capitals (e.g., nicotine AND health). Be sure to check out the Helpful Hints page for additional assistance. You will need to download and install the Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view or print the PDF versions.
Federal Register (GPO Access)
Online access to the Federal Register the day it is published. Coverage begins with January 1995. Browse by date or search by keyword, agency, CFR citation, or date. Searches can be limited to final rules, proposed rules, notices, Presidential documents, Sunshine Act meetings, reader aids, and corrections. As with the Code of Federal Regulations database, phrases must be in quotes and boolean connectors must be in capitals. Also includes a database of the Unified Agenda which summarizes rules agencies intend to propose during the next six month. Be sure to check out the Helpful Hints page for additional assistance. You will need to download and install the Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view or print the PDF versions.
Unified Agenda (GPO Access)
The Unified Agenda (also known as the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda), published twice a year (usually in April and October) in the Federal Register (FR), summarizes the rules and proposed rules that each Federal agency expects to issue during the next six months. It is published by the Office of the Federal Register National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

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How Do I Find Regulations By Number?

To find the CFR title and section when you have a Federal Register citation, search either LexisNexis or the Code of Federal Regulations databases (above) by citation. If that is not successful, go to the regulation itself in the Federal Register. At the beginning of the entry you will find listed the title and part where the final rules (and any changes) should be. To find regulations relating to a specific law, use the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules of the CFR Index and Finding Aid.

CFR Index and Finding Aid (annual)
AE 2.106/3-2: (Documents/Reference)
The Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules has sections arranged by United States Code citation, Statutes-at-Large citation, Public Law Number, Executive Orders, Directives, Memorandums, and Reorganizations Plans. Refers you to the title and part where regulations can be found.

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How Do I Update a Regulation?

To find any amendments, changes, etc. to a regulation listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, first check the date of the CFR volume. Then search either LexisNexis or the Federal Register from GPO Access (above) by CFR citation and subject (use both to be thorough).

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For Further Reading

The Federal Register: What It Is and How to Use It, 1992.
AE 2.108:F 31/2 (Documents/Reference)
An online tutorial on how to use the Federal Register. Available in HTML or PDF (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Any questions? Ask a Librarian, or call us at 806/651-2205.

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