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Federal Administrative and Executive Law: Overview

Resources for locating federal administrative law.

Federal Administrative Law Research

Federal administrative law comes from the President, agencies of the executive branch (e.g., Federal Aviation Administration), and independent agencies (e.g., Securities and Exchange Commission). It includes executive orders and proclamations, agency rules or regulations, administrative decisions,and other agency documents. Many agency documents are increasingly available electronically, often in PDF format.

Although regulatory research can be quite complex, good research techniques exist to make this research efficient.

There are a number of secondary sources that can provide extensive help and information to help you understand administrative law research. Secondary sources help you frame your questions before you begin researching "the law" and often provide references to the exact primary source that you may need.

A note about electronic sources: Sources marked "Internet" are freely available on the web. Due to license restrictions, the law library can only provide access to LexisNexis and Westlaw to current law school students, faculty, and staff. 

Administrative Process

When a law is passed, the law authorizes executive agencies to promulgate rules that interpret and fill in the administrative details of that law.  The regulations that agencies promulgate are a form of delegated or "quasi" legislation and have the full force and effect of law.

Crash Course on Bureaucracy

Government Diagram

To view a larger version of the diagram, click on the image.

Ben's Guide Diagram

Source: GPO, United States Government Manual, 21 (2009-2010) available at

Subject Guide

Steven Alexandre da Costa
Room 319