LOCATING AND UPDATING FEDERAL ADMINISTRATIVE MATERIALS
Administrative rules and regulations, both federal and state, carry the force of law. They are promulgated under authority granted by statute to expand upon the general outline provided by the statute and to prescribe or prohibit activities in areas statutes do not reach. The federal compilation of administrative regulations currently in force is the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). The chronological compilation of new and amended regulations, both proposed and final, is the Federal Register (F.R.)
Researching in Print Format
The C.F.R. is published in paper-bound volumes that are re-issued annually.
It is organized into titles that roughly correspond to the titles used
to organize the United States Code. For example, Title 26 of the U.S.C.
is the Internal Revenue Code, while Title 26 of C.F.R. contains Internal
Revenue Service regulations. However, the correlation is not so precise
for all titles. For example, Title 17 of the U.S.C. contains copyright
statutes, while Title 17 of the C.F.R. contains securities regulations.
The annual updating of the C.F.R. is done sequentially, with a portion
of the entire set updated each quarter. Check the front of each volume
to determine when it was last updated.
To locate federal regulations by topic:
To update regulations:
Follow the steps below to update a C.F.R. section:
NOTE: Publication of the LSA pamphlets has slowed markedly in the past few years. Therefore, updating in print sources can be cumbersome and time-consuming. We recommend that you use the GPO Access web site, described below, or Westlaw or Lexis, for updating.
Courts have a complex role in implementing and interpreting agency regulations. To determine whether judicial opinions have had an impact on the validity of a regulation, you can Shepardize a federal regulation in Shepard's Code of Federal Regulations Citations. As in other units of Shepard's, abbreviated treatment codes preceding the citations indicate the treatment given to the regulation by the citing cases; e.g., constitutional (C) or unconstitutional (U), valid (Va), or void/invalid (V). A table of abbreviations appears near the front of each Shepard's volume or pamphlet.
Both Lexis and Westlaw provide the current full text of C.F.R. and the Federal Register. Both systems also contain superseded versions of C.F.R. back to the early 1980s in separate databases/sources. Federal Register coverage goes back to 1980 on Lexis and to its first publication in 1936 on Westlaw. On both systems, an alternative to searching the full text of C.F.R. and/or F.R. is to search the versions available in the specialized "area of practice" sources/databases. These contain only the titles pertinent to a particular area of law. As always with the specialty databases/sources, some caution must be used in deciding to search only in limited titles in order to avoid missing relevant material.
To search for a C.F.R. section online by subject, you can use
either terms and connectors or natural language searching, using descriptive
terms. Another approach, if you know the citation to the enabling statute,
is to use the U.S. Code citation in a field/segment search as follows:
Westlaw: cr(20 /5 4011) - searches the credit field
Lexis: authority(20 /5 4011) - searches the authority segment
The above examples will search your terms in only the portion of the document that contains the reference to the statute under which your regulation was promulgated. You can combine search terms with the field segment search if desired, using terms and connectors.
The online versions of C.F.R. are much more current than the print version, making updating an easier task. Each C.F.R. section online on either Lexis or Westlaw contains a line, near the heading, indicating the last issue of the Federal Register through which the section is updated. (Note: this does not mean that material affecting the section was published on that date in the Federal Register - merely that that is the last date through which the database has been updated.) The date of most recent update varies; it may be from a week or so to nearly a month prior to the date you are researching.
If the particular C.F.R. section has been affected by developments during the gap, Westlaw provides a highlighted "Update" link at the top of the screen. Clicking on this link will take you to the Federal Register database and to the particular Federal Register item that is relevant to the regulation you are updating. On Lexis, you can run a separate search in the Federal Register file to determine whether any updating items exist; alternatively, you can search in a combined file that includes both C.F.R. and Federal Register documents.
C.F.R. sections can be Shepardized on Lexis or in the print version, or KeyCited on Westlaw. Another alternative is to construct a terms and connectors search that uses the regulation cite as a search term.
The GPO (Government Printing Office) Access site <http://www.gpoaccess.gov> provides search and updating capability for both the C.F.R. and Federal Register. GPO Access permits searching for regulations by citation or subject and includes the parallel authorities table in which cross references from U.S.C. citations to accompanying regulations in the C.F.R. may be found. This web site has proven to be reliable and current, and is useful for updating regulations without incurring the costs associated with Lexis and Westlaw. To update a C.F.R. citation on GPO Access:
GPO Access also offers access to e-CFR, a much more current electronic version of the C.F.R. at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/ecfr/. Using this version makes it unnecessary to use the LSA to update regulations. However, Boolean searching is not yet possible in this version - you must browse by C.F.R. title and part.
Agency web sites may include statutes and regulations relating to the activities of the agency. Advantages of using an agency web site include the fact that they are free of charge and one need not know the precise citation to statutes and regulations in order to locate them. Be aware, however, that some such sites do not provide sufficient information as to the source or currency of the information provided.