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Essential Legal Research Skills for Law Students: Regulations

During the fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, some of the library services will be modified to address the effects of the COVID-19 virus. Check the Law Library web page for updates (http://law.pace.edu/library)

How Regulations Are Created

The federal Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 500, governs administrative agencies within executive departments and independent federal agencies. Agencies propose and finalize regulations under authority granted by Congress in federal statutes. Federal courts oversee all agency actions. The regulatory process is explained in detail in a RegMap published by the Office of Management and Budget.

Most states have enacted administrative procedure statutes to govern the actions of state agencies. Many state laws are based on the Model State Administrative Procedure Act (Model State APA), which was drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

Federal Register

The Federal Register is the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains proposed and final rules created by federal administrative agencies, public notices, and presidential executive orders. It is published online and in print every weekday, except on federal holidays, by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. Every issue of the Federal Register from its first volume in 1936 to the present is also available at the Law Library on microfiche.

An authenticated (official) version of the Federal Register is also published online on the official website of the U.S. Government Publishing Office, Govinfo.gov, from its first issue in 1936. The Law Library also has the entire run of the Federal Register on microfiche.

Proposed regulations are published in the Federal Register to allow members of the public to submit Comments during a set comment period, before a regulation becomes final. Comments on proposed regulations can be submitted online at Regulations.gov. 

In addition, the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, maintains the Reginfo website, which provides detailed information on the rulemaking process and agencies' plans for future regulatory actions.

Code of Federal Regulations

The permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the federal administrative departments and agencies are edited and codified by subject matter into 50 titles annually and published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

The CFR is published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. An authenticated online edition is published by the Government Publishing Office on Govinfo.gov. In addition to the official annual edition, an unofficial e-CFR, updated daily, is published by GPO.

The CFR includes finding aids to aid in finding regulations, including a Table of CFR Titles and Chapters, and alphabetical list of agencies that appear in the CFR, and the LSA, List of Sections Affected, a monthly collation of new final rules published in the Federal Register since the most recent volume of the CFR was published. The LSA is also published in separate monthly issues in print. A Cumulative List of Parts Affected appears in the Reader Aids section of the daily Federal Register. Both lists identify the page number in the Federal Register of the latest amendment of any given rule.

New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR)

The New York State Department of State, Division of Administrative Rules, publishes new regulations created by state agencies in the daily New York State Register. Like the Federal Register, the New York State Register includes both proposed and final rules and notices, and executive orders issued by the Governor of New York. A comment process and procedural rules for submission are provided for proposed rules on the website of the Secretary of State.

At the end of each year, regulations are compiled in the New York Code of Rules and Regulations in 23 subject matter titles. The NYCRR edition in print is available at the Law Library. An unofficial, online version of the NYCRR is published at https://govt.westlaw.com/nycrr/index?__lrTS=20200618194313674&transitionType=Default&contextData=%28sc.Default%29,