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Government Research, Data & Regulations

A guide to the U.S. system of government: how it works, how you work in it, and how you can utilize the information available to you.

Regulations and How They Work

A regulation is a general statement issued by an agency, board, or commission that has the force and effect of law. Congress often grants agencies the authority to issue regulations. Sometimes Congress requires agencies to issue a regulation; sometimes Congress grants agencies the discretion to do so. Many laws passed by Congress give Federal agencies some flexibility in deciding how best to implement those laws. Federal regulations specify the details and requirements necessary to implement and to enforce legislation enacted by Congress.

From Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs FAQ (; see link below)

The Rulemaking Process:
  1. Agency determined that regulation is needed
  2. Agency publishes notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)
  3. Public comments on NPRM (part of the official record)
  4. Regulations in the making are published as a proposed rule (PR) in the Federal Register
  5. PR is open to public comments
  6. PR are assigned a docket number (a unique identifier)
  7. Rule is prepared and reviewed by OMB
  8. Rule is published in Federal Register
  9. Rule is codified in Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

(With thanks to Debbie Rabina,

Regulations and Legal Documents

What regulations guide your work? When you need to find the legal information that applies to your project, you can either go right to the federal agency or use a Library database.

Nexis Uni includes legal opinions and state and federal regulations, and the Government Publishing Office provides open access to the current Code of Federal Regulations, which govern the U.S.


Government Docs

Not sure which agency regulates a particular topic? Start with

Or start with the regulations and search for the topic.

Cite these documents in APA:

NJ Legal Info