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What are Federal Regulations?

Administrative and regulatory agencies are created by Congress to carry out legislation. To do their work, agencies were given the power to promulgate regulations (also known as “rules”) and hold semi-judicial hearings. Their orders, regulations, and decisions have the force of law.

The Federal Register Act, passed in 1935, established the Federal Register as the daily gazette for executive and administrative rulings. All executive orders and administrative regulations must be published in the Federal Register if they are to be legally binding. An amendment to the Act created the Code of Federal Regulations which arranges all effective regulation in a subject compilation and is revised annually.

In this guide, you will find information on how to search for recent regulations that are available online, how to search for older regulations that are no longer in print, and how to locate regulations using various sources.  Please see the yellow tabs above for more information on each of these topics.

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If you need further assistance, please contact the Government Publications Office, (401) 874-2606. If the office is closed, please consult the Info & Research Help Desk, at (401) 874-2653. You may also contact me, the government publications subject specialist at (401) 874-4610 or

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Deborah Mongeau's picture
Deborah Mongeau
University Libraries

Public Services Department

phone: (401) 874-4610

Created & Revised by

K.S. Nilsen, 1971;

A. Shaw, 9/76;

T. Reynolds, 1/81;

D. Mongeau, 4/87, 3/98, 5/04;

H. Posey, 4/10

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.