Federal regulations are promulgated through a process referred to as the “rulemaking process.” During this process, federal regulations are published in two primary sources: the CFR, discussed previously, and the Federal Register. The Federal Register is the official daily publication of the United States Government. It is published daily Monday through Friday and “contains Presidential documents, proposed, interim, and final rules and regulations, and notices of hearings, decisions, investigations and committee meetings.“1 Federal rules and regulations usually appear at least twice in the Federal Register – once as a proposed rule, to provide the public with notice and with an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule, and again as the final version of the rule. Therefore, to learn more about a rule or regulation’s history and origins, researchers generally want to trace the rule back from the CFR to where it appears in the Federal Register.
To figure out where a rule or regulation was published in the Federal Register, you will want to find that rule’s “source note(s)” in the CFR. A source note typically appears at the beginning of a larger unit of the CFR, such as a Part or Subpart, and may also appear in brackets following a particular provision. In either case, it will generally provide you with one or more citations to the Federal Register. A citation to the Federal Register–for example “77 FR 58945, Sept. 25, 2012”– gives you several pieces of information, including the volume number (in this example, the citation refers you to volume 77), the page number of that volume (here, page number 58945), and the date of the issue of the Federal Register where the publication of the rule appears (here, September 25th, 2012).
Once you have a citation, you can locate the Federal Register in various sources, including:
Generally speaking, the citation you will find in the source notes will lead you to that rule or regulation’s “final rule” publication.2