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U.S. Laws and Regulations: U.S. Regulations

Provides access to U.S. Laws and Regulations

Overview of the U.S. Regulatory System

Traditional civic lessons seem to stop after the president signs a bill into law.  This is unfortunate since passing the law is only half of the story.  Laws passed by the U.S. Congress are generally written using broad language, and its up to the federal agencies, with assistence from the White House Office of Management and Budget, and public comments, to produce the regulations specifying how the law is to be interpreted. 

The Reg Map: Informal Rulemaking

As illustrated by the above 9-step map the work involved in producing regulations is immense, but there are only 2 publications to use when researching regulations:

Federal Register- The Federal Register is published everyday (except on federal holidays) and provides proposed rules, final rules, announcements, regulatory agendas, and everything else related to the regulation process.  The Federal Register is abbreviated FR in legal citations. 

Code of Federal Regulations- Final rules and regulations published in the Federal Register are collected and published in the Code of Federal Regulations.  It is the current regulations in force.  This 50+ volume set is published annually in paper.  CFR is the legal citation for the Code of Federal Regulations.

Federal Register (FR)

Proposed Rules, and Notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as Executive Orders and other Presidential Documents are published in the Federal Register. Arrangement is by agency, not by subject matter. The usual rule making process includes publication of a notice of intent, proposed rules, requests for comments, and final rules. Also included are explanations of the rule makers' intent, including summaries of comments received and how those comments affected the regulations. You can find the Federal Register in several places at UC Berkeley.  For more information on the FR, see The Federal Register: What It Is and How to Use It.

  • FR, 1994-Present, via FDSys
  • (Search and comment on currently proposed regulations)
  • Historical copies of the Federal Register:
    • 1936-present: Hein Online (UCB Only)
    • 1936-1950: NRLF J10 .A15
    • 1951-1980: MICROFILM 1345 J NEWS
    • 1981-present: MICROFICHE 4604 NEWS

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register (FR) by the Executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

The CFR is divided into 50 titles which represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each title is divided into chapters which usually bear the name of the issuing agency. Each chapter is further subdivided into parts covering specific regulatory areas. Large parts may be subdivided into subparts. All parts are organized in sections, and most citations to the CFR will be provided at the section level.

The entire set is revised annually. However, the revision process is accomplished on a quarterly basis, with a different range of titles revised each quarter. The revision schedule is as follows:

  • Titles 1-16 are current as of January 1 of the cover year;
  • Titles 17-27 are current as of April 1;
  • Titles 28-41 are current as of July 1;
  • Titles 42-50 are current as of October 1.

Like the Federal Register, the CFR can be found in several places on campus: