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Finding and Updating Administrative Regulations

Administrative regulations - rules promulgated by executive branch agencies under authority delegated by the legislature - are crucial in many areas of law. Because they are primary legal authority, it is essential to be able to find applicable regulations and to determine their status. This is an overview of the process. For advice about any aspect of administrative or regulatory research, ask a reference librarian.

Federal Regulations

Code of Federal Regulations — What It Is & Where to Find It

Federal regulations that are currently in force are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Sources include:

Federal Register — What It Is & Where to Find It

The Federal Register, published every business day, contains proposed rules, new final rules, and other administrative agency notices. Because each CFR title is updated just once a year, the Federal Register is essential for tracking new or changed regulations. Also, because proposed and final rules are accompanied by background information, the Federal Register is useful for researching the purpose of regulations. Sources include:

  • The most recent 5-6 months or so of the Federal Register in the Zief Law Library at call number KF 70 .A2 Law Stacks. The Federal Register from volume 1 (1936) in the Zief Library on microfiche, in fiche cabinet 17, drawer 5 - fiche cabinet 18, drawer 4.

  • A free official version of the Federal Register from the the Government Printing Office from 1994 (volume 59) to the present (including the current day's issue).

  • The Federal Register Library from HeinOnline (for the USF community only), from 1936 (volume 1) to about 2 months ago.

  • The Lexis FR - Federal Register (EXEC;FEDREG) source and the Westlaw Federal Register (FR) database.

Proposed rules also appear on Regulations.gov, a site that allows for the submission of comments.

Finding Applicable Federal Regulations

To find Code of Federal Regulations provisions relevant to your issue, try these methods.

  • Subject Approach — Practice Guides, Treatises, Looseleaf Services

    Consult a secondary source (such as a practice guide, a treatise, or a comprehensive looseleaf service) dealing with your area of law, topic, or issue. Such sources generally discuss, cite, and sometimes even reprint relevant regulations.

  • Subject Approach — Index Searching

    • West's Code of Federal Regulations Index, 2006 - present. Very detailed. Current year: KF 70 .A34 W47 Law Stacks. (Previous years in lower level microform room.) Also on Westlaw; select the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) database, then click on the "RegulationsPlus Index" link at the top right-hand side of the search page.

    • Code of Federal Regulations. CFR Index and Finding Aids, KF 70 .A3 C63 Law Stacks. Published as part of the CFR. Not very detailed.

    • Index to the Code of Federal Regulations, 1977-2001, (Published by Congressional Information Service.) KF 70 .A412 Law Stacks. Very detailed; useful for finding superseded regulations.

  • U.S. Code Section Approach

    If you know a section of the United States Code that applies to your issue, you can sometimes use that code section to find regulations. The sources mentioned here, however, are selective, not comprehensive, so if you don't find anything, try another approach.

    • Annotated Codes (USCA or USCS)

      Look up your code section online or in print in West's United States Code Annotated or LexisNexis's United States Code Service. Check the annotations for references to regulations.

    • CFR Index "Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules"

      This table matches U.S. Code sections with regulations relating to those sections.

  • Keyword Searching

    The online versions of the CFR allow some form of keyword searching. Keyword searches of regulations can, however, be unproductive and disappointing because regulations addressing an issue can be and are sometimes are drafted without using any distinctive words describing that issue. If your keyword search is not successful, try another approach.

Updating Federal Regulations

Each volume of the Code of Federal Regulations (in print and in the official online version) is updated only once a year, so you must consult other sources to find new developments. Two useful updating methods — one online and one using print tools — are the following:

  • eCFR Approach

    Use the unofficial eCFR to look up the CFR section you are updating. To double-check this unofficial information, look up the Federal Register references at the end of the eCFR version of your regulation. Note especially the Federal Register citations from the past year.

  • List of Sections Affected Approach

    The List of Sections Affected (LSA) shows which CFR sections have been affected by final or proposed regulations. It is organized by title and section of the CFR. It is further updated by the Federal Register. Sources for the LSA include:

    • Code of Federal Regulations. List of Sections Affected, Zief Library, KF 70 .A321 Law Stacks
    • List of Sections Affected via GPO Access

    The steps for using the LSA to update your Code of Federal Regulations section are:

    1. Determine the cut-off date from which you must begin updating.

      This is the date on the cover of the CFR volume containing your regulation, or on the list of "Available CFR Titles" on the GPO's online version of the CFR.

    2. Find the LSA issue(s) containing changes since the cut-off date.

      Check the most recent LSA issue in the library or on the list of LSA issues on the GPO site. Find the page(s) or portions updating your CFR title and code section, and check the date range at the top of the page or display. Do those dates go all the way back to the cut-off date? If not, also check earlier LSA issues until you find one that does report changes all the way back to the cut-off date.

    3. Check those issues of the LSA for changes to your regulation.

      If there are changes, the LSA will refer you to the exact page of the Federal Register where the changes are printed.

    4. Continue updating in the Federal Register.

      The most recent information in the LSA is generally several months old. To cover the gap between the newest LSA volume and the present, use the Federal Register.

      In print, check the "List of CFR Parts Affected During [Month]" in the back of the last Federal Register issue for each month following date of the newest LSA volume you used.

      Online, check all available "lists of CFR Parts Affected" on GPO's online LSA. Typically you will find Last Month's List of CFR Parts Affected, a Current List of CFR Parts Affected, and a List of CFR Parts Affected Today. If the CFR "Part" containing your regulation was affected, the Federal Register page citation will be given. You can use this page number to search GPO's online Federal Register.

California Regulations

Barclay's Official California Code of Regulations — What It Is & Where to Find It

California regulations that are currently in force are codified in Barclay's Official California Code of Regulations ("CCR"). Sources include:

Finding Applicable California Regulations

To find California Code of Regulations provisions relevant to your issue, try these methods.

  • Subject Approach — Practice Guides, Treatises, Looseleaf Services

    Consult a secondary source (such as a Witkin publication, Cal. Jur. III, a practice guide, or a treatise) dealing with your area of law, topic, or issue. Such sources generally discuss and cite relevant regulations. For possible sources, see the law library's California Practice Guides research guide.

  • Subject Approach — Index Searching

    Check the "Subject Index⁄Master Index" in volume 1 of the CCR, KFC 35 1990 .A22 Law Stacks

  • California Code Section Approach

    If you know a section of the California codes that applies to your issue, you can sometimes use that code section to find regulations. The sources mentioned here, however, are selective, not comprehensive, so if you don't find anything, try another approach.

    • Annotated Codes (West's or Deerings)

      Look up your code section online or in print in West's Annotated California Codes or Deering's Calfornia Codes Annotated. Check the annotations for references to regulations.

    • "Table of Statutes to Regulations"

      This is in the first volume of the CCR, KFC 35 1990 .A22 Law Stacks.

  • Keyword Searching

    The online versions of the CCR allow some form of keyword searching. Keyword searches of regulations can, however, be unproductive and disappointing because regulations addressing an issue can be and are sometimes are drafted without using any distinctive words describing that issue. If your keyword search is not successful, try another approach.

Updating California Regulations

Changes to regulations are incorporated weekly into the print and online Barclay's CCR. The changes generally appear in the CCR only a few weeks after they are become effective.

For more recent developments, contact the agency responsible for issuing the regulations. Some sources are:

For proposed rules, consult the California Regulatory Notice Register (sometimes also known as the "Z Register"). The Z Register in print is at KFC 36 .C35 Law Stacks. The Z Register online is available from the Office of Administrative Law.