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Government Documents - U.S.

This guide was designed to help locate U.S. Government Documents, either in the American University Library collections or free online.

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Sarah Gilchrist
American University Library, B 46

Documents of the Federal Executive Branch of Government

Executive Branch of Government: Regulations and Executive Orders

The executive branch of Government enforces the laws of the land. It was established in Article II of the Constitution. Many laws enacted by Congress require agencies to issue regulations. Executive branch agencies are granted the power to implement regulations relating to matters within their jurisdiction. Regulations are published daily in the Federal Register and are then codified in the Code of Federal Regulations once a year.

Code of Federal Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each volume of the CFR is updated once each calendar year and is issued on a quarterly basis. More about the Code of Federal Regulations from: GPO Access.

  • GPO Access: Code of Federal Regulations 1996 (partial) to present
  • GPO Access: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations
    Updated daily, the e-CFR is a currently updated version of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), but it is not an official legal edition of the CFR. The e-CFR is an editorial compilation of CFR material and Federal Register amendments produced by the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of the Federal Register (OFR) and the Government Printing Office.
  • HeinOnline (AU Community only) 1938-2008 (1991-1998 currently includes only Title 37)
  • LexisNexis Congressional (AU Community only) 1981 to present. Updated weekly.

Federal Register
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. It is updated daily by 6 a.m. and is published Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. More about the Federal Register from: GPO Access.

Presidential Directives
Presidential directives are signed or authorized by the President. They are issued by the National Security Council. Many recent ones are classified. More about Presidential Directives.

Major Finding Aids

Official source
Recent bills
Search engine for US government and military web sites
Spanish language search engine for US government and military web sites

Historical documents

Catalog of U.S. Govt. Publications
Pre-1994 publications