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Legal Research: A Guide to Administrative Law

Administrative Decisions

Administrative agencies are typically charged with enforcing the rules they promulgate. In this enforcement capacity, an agency may issue a variety of formal and informal adjudicative materials, including guidance, opinions, rulings, memoranda, orders, directives, decisions, or arbitrations. Unlike federal rules, there is no single source for accessing all adjudicative materials, and researchers may need to review a variety of resources to find a particular document, if indeed it was published and made publicly available.

Current administrative decisions and materials are frequently published to the website of a federal agency. Other sources of administrative materials (with examples) are:

Some agency rulings or orders are appealed to a United States Court of Appeals. Case law resulting from these matters can be found in various print and online resources. For information about researching and finding case law, use the following companion research guides:

Subscription Databases

Several subscription legal research databases offer access to federal agency administrative decisions. The following subscription databases (marked with a padlock ) are available onsite at the Library of Congress: