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Administrative Law Research: Agencies

Primary and secondary sources for finding rules, proposed rules, agency activity, including decisions, and presidential documents.

Agency Websites

Agency websites are a good place to begin your administrative law research; they often provide:

  • Enabling statutes
  • Related regulations
  • Administrative decisions
  • Hearings
  • Reports
  • Data
  • Press releases

When navigating an agency website, look for headings like:

  • Rules & Regulations
  • Legal / Laws
  • Library
  • Enforcement
  • Interpretations
  • Decisions

Administrative Agencies

Federal administrative agencies draw authority from both Congress and the Executive. Agencies are typically created by Congress through the enactment of "enabling" statutes.  Over time new agencies get added to the federal establishment and existing agencies get reorganized or eliminated. Each agency is as unique in structure as its enabling statute.  California agencies draw their power from the state legislature.

An agency may:

  • Promulgate regulations designed to implement law or policy
  • Issue orders to describe the final disposition of agency action
  • Issue licenses, permits, or other permissions
  • Issue advisory opinions with binding, non-precedential advice 
  • Issue decisions arising from a quasi-adjudicative process

An agency may be called:

  • Board, i.e., National Labor Relations Board
  • Commission, i.e., Securities Exchange Commission
  • Corporation, i.e., Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Authority, i.e., Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Department, i.e., Department of Transportation
  • Administration, i.e., Social Security Administration
  • Agency, i.e., Environmental Protection Agency