When Congress passes a law, often it cannot describe every detail of the implementation of that law. Instead, it authorizes various executive departments and agencies to write the rules and regulations which implement the intent of the law. Congress will describe the broad area of regulatory mandate, but the executive agency is responsible for filling in the specifics and administering the regulations, via the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and other administrative decisions.
For a more detailed description and background of the Federal Register and CFR, consult A Research Guide to the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations, prepared by Richard J. McKinney for the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C.
Another detailed, useful tool is Tracking Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: a Guide to Basic Sources, prepared by the Congressional Research Service, updated 2010. Also of interest: Analysis of an Estimate of the Total Costs of Federal Regulations, CRS, April 2011.
The Regulatory Information Service Center has established the REGINFO.GOV site to assist users who want to find information about Federal, state, and local regulation. The Center is a Federal Government office located in the General Services Administration, with responsibility for gathering and publishing information on Federal regulations. The Center provides this information to the President, Congress, agency officials, and the general public to help them better understand and manage the regulatory process.
- The Reg Map is a chart that gives a detailed overview of the "informal rulemaking" process.
Regulations.gov is the U.S. Government web site that makes it easier for you to participate in Federal rulemaking - an essential part of the American democratic process. On this site, you can find, review, and submit comments on Federal documents that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register, the Government's legal newspaper. You can also sign up for email alerts and subscribe to RSS feeds.