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How to Trace Federal Regulations: A Beginner's Guide

Docket Information

Depending on your research project, next steps might include finding rulemaking docket information for the regulation(s) of interest. A rulemaking docket has been defined as containing "all of an agency’s relevant rulemaking materials (e.g., NPRM, hearing Notices, extensions of comment period, and Final Rule), supporting documents (e.g., economic and environmental analyses), studies and other references, all public comments, and other relevant documents" created during a rulemaking process. To find rulemaking docket information, it is important to seek out two numbers that will likely be linked to your notice(s) of proposed rulemaking and/or final rule(s) of interest:

You can use one or both of these numbers to track down the docket folder for your regulation of interest.

Some recent docket information can sometimes be found on agency websites, but most available docket information is found in online databases, including:

If you are not able to find the docket folder for your regulation of interest using the resources above, your next step will likely be to contact the federal agency or sub-agency that promulgated the regulation.  Contact information for federal agencies can be found at:

After a period of time, depending on the records schedule of the agency or sub-agency, docket folders will be sent to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to be maintained.  For more information about searching the records held by NARA, visit:

Resources Referenced