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Federal Agencies and Executive Branch


Federal administrative law comes from the Executive Branch of the United States government. It relates to the powers of the President, the functions and procedures of federal administrative agencies, and the methods of judicial review of administrative decisions.

Administrative law exists in a number of forms including rules, regulations, orders, and decisions. The President is empowered to issue executive orders, proclamations, and reorganization plans. Administrative agencies, when specifically granted the authority by Congress, have the power to create, or promulgate, rules and regulations that have the same authority as statutes. This rulemaking authority is explicitly recognized in the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946, one of the most important federal statutes of general applicability to administrative agencies.

Agencies also make administrative decisions, or adjudications, that are in some ways similar to judicial trials. Any administrative action that directly affects the rights of specific individuals is categorized as an administrative adjudication. Due to the range in scope of administrative decisions, administrative law materials related to agency decisions include a wide variety of materials, including opinions written by administrative law judges.

This research guide provides information on the various sources of administrative law and where those sources can be accessed. The guide details availability in print resources as well as links to both free and subscription-based online resources.

General Resources, while not an official source of administrative rules, provides an online portal for access to agency rulemaking documents, including proposed rules and public comments submitted in regard to proposed rules.

United States Government Manual
The U.S. Government Manual is the official handbook of the federal government.  It is published annually and includes a broad range of information on all three branches of government. Information on the executive branch includes departments, independent agencies and government corporations, and the president. The Appendix lists agencies terminated, transferred, or changed in name. 

A-Z Index of Federal Agencies 
This website provides links to federal agency websites as well as contact information for every federal agency listed in the U.S. Government Manual. Agency websites are excellent sources of information about agency actions, staff, and related regulations.