Finding US Regulations for Research

When conducting research, it is important to understand the regulations that govern the topic. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is a compilation of regulations issued by federal agencies and is divided into numbered titles. This guide provides a brief introduction to regulatory research and how to find the relevant regulations. Regulations are a source of primary authority.

Congress drafts laws, but delegates authority to federal agencies to create rules and regulations that have the force of law. The president can also direct an agency to create regulations through an executive order. This process is known as the rule-making process. The CFR can be accessed in both Westlaw and Lexis, but it is not the most efficient way to seek regulations.

Regulations are quite dense and full of details, so it is important to use the index to read at least the other regulations in the same part (and perhaps the larger subchapter). When reading a regulation, it is important to check the source and authority. Source and authority are important for tracking regulatory history. In Lexis, scroll down to the annotations or select Research References and Practical Aids on the left side of the page.

Related citations will be included in the “Code of Federal Regulations”.Administrative agencies act in a similar way to judicial agencies when they issue decisions that interpret and enforce regulations. These decisions are rarely collected in one place, and some agencies don't publish the decisions in any format. However, many federal agencies publish their decisions and opinions on their websites. In general terms, the citation you'll find in the source notes will lead you to the “publication of the final rule” of that rule or regulation. For a federal agency, board, or commission to issue a rule or regulation with the force and effect of law, it must derive that authority from an explicit grant of power by Congress. In Westlaw, you can use the arrows that appear next to the Index button to view the sections before and after a regulation; in Lexis, you can also use the Previous and Next links to view the sections before and after a regulation. To access the Westlaw Code of Federal Regulations subject index, choose Federal Materials and Code of Federal Regulations.

Next, select the link to the Index of the Code of Federal Regulations in the sidebar on the right, in the Federal Regulations section. If there are no changes in the regulations for certain books, colored paper is issued so that it can be used to cover the previous edition. A final caveat when conducting an investigation with the LSA is to keep in mind that parts of the CFR that have been annulled by a federal agency can be reused by an agency at a later time for any newly established regulation on a totally different topic. In addition, see the Context Analysis tab & to see the regulations that Westlaw has selected as relevant to the subject of a law. This regulatory history can be useful in determining why an agency proposed a rule or used specific language in a regulation. Although its size is considerable, an annual reissue of the CFR in softbound books, rather than through cumulative supplements or loose sheets, allows researchers to determine how a regulation is read on a given date. From 1949 to 1963, a specialized index was published at the end of each CFR book, which sometimes included one or more CFR titles, and since 1975 some agencies (see list in Index) have prepared an index of agencies that is published together with their regulations in CFR. For previous discussions on proper way to publish CFR, see Factor, Modernizing federal regulations publications, 21 Fed. Investigators generally start with a rule or regulation of interest from Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).