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View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

Government Information (US)

About Federal Regulations

Federal regulation or rule-making is carried out by the executive agencies of the federal government headed by the president. Their authority to do so is delegated by their oversight committees of Congress. Agency or administrative regulations have the force of law and are thus subject to review by Congress, the Executive Office of the President as well as the federal courts.  

Finding Regulations

New regulations may impact many people, so public notice is given. First, a notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register. The public and affected parties are invited to comment on the proposal.  You can view proposed rules and comment on them at the official government website Regulations.gov.

Later, after comments are received and revisions made, they are finalized and once again published in the Federal Register as a final rule. Importantly, final rules include a preamble that often outlines the history and intent of the regulation as proposed, commented on and finalized.

All final regulations on a topic, e.g. food safety or water quality, are collected in subject compilations known as a code---the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

The complete backfile of the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations is available via HeinOnline.

Federal Regulations

Government or federal regulation is rule-making done by individual agencies of the federal government.  Rules have the force of law because Congress has delegated this power to the executive arm of government.  Agencies of the federal government are repositories of expert technical knowledge required for effective adminstration of Congressional, presidential and judicial intent.

Where are regulations published?

Regulations are first published in the daily Federal Register as a notice of proposed rulemaking.  At this stage the public and affected parties have the opportunity to submit comments.  Later the proposal rule will move to a final stage, and again published in the Federal Register.  A final rule will often contain an explanatory preamble detailing the history and intent of the rule.  Rules or regulations on the same topic are collected into a subject compilation known as a code, specifically the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

  • Regulations.gov is the official government website to comment on proposed rules.
  • The Federal Register is published daily Monday to Friday.  Current and archive editions are avaiable via HeinOnline.
  • The Code of Federal Regulation is updated annually on a quarterly rotating basis.  Old and new editions are also on HeinOnline.

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