Skip to main content

Administrative Law Research Guide: Federal Agencies

This guide is intended for students who are learning about administrative law and its sources, and to help scholars and practitioners locate materials in the library and online. Content additions will be gradual but steady. Please check back often!
  • The United States Government Manual is the official, annual compendium of information about federal agencies, boards, commissions, including statements of mission and responsibilities, organizational charts, staff contacts, and historical information of use to researchers. The legislative and judicial branches are covered in addition to executive agencies.  The Manual has existed in some form for about 80 years and is an excellent resource for beginners or experienced researchers. It is published annually in paperback and on FDsys.gov from 1995 forward. The National Archives has the most current year of the Government Manual on its website. Every edition is available in Hein Online.  Eckstein Library has print editions from 1948. The current print edition is in Reference on the first floor. 

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the federal agency charged with keeping the nation's records.  Statutes that underlie its authority require that laws and other government documents get published, updated, and archived.  The NARA website is notable for its ease of use and educational focus.  NARA has links to the official government pages for legal materials and offers supplemental materials for researchers.  NARA's mandate of access to information and preservation of government materials is also complicated by national security constraints. The agency is often at the center of debates about declassification of government documents and FOIA disputes.  

The Administrative Committee of the Federal Register (ACFR) was established in 1935 under the Federal Register Act, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 15. This committee is an executive/legislative authority and is responsible for overseeing the Federal Register publication system. Some of the publications required by the Federal Register Act (FRA) to be published and maintained under this law are: the CFR, the Federal Register, the compilations of presidential documents, public presidential papers, the U.S. Statutes at Large, and the United States Government Manual.