What is the Federal Register?
This clever video from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Library gives the answer to this burning question in a most entertaining way...
New regulations, proposed new rules, various miscellaneous notices, and executive orders and other Presidential documents are published daily in the Federal Register. Proposed Regulations must first appear in the Federal Register, where information for public comments is given. 1994 to the present.
Citations to the Federal Register follow this form: [volume no.] FR [page no.].
FederalRegister.gov is a newspaper-styled interface to the material in the Register. However, although the information within the website is authentic and reliable, it has not been accorded official status. What this means is that citations to it are not considered acceptable in legal proceedings.
The Law Library keeps complete microfiche backfiles for both the Federal Register and the CFR. Note that the Federal Register began publication in 1936 and the CFR in 1937.
The CFR is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. The titles are updated once each calendar year, on a staggered basis. Once the Regulations are in force, they appear in the CFR in summary form.The annual editions are online through govinfo.gov from 1996 to the present.
Citations to the CFR look like this: [title no.] CFR [section no.]. For example, the section of the CFR that deals with launch licenses for commercial space transportation is section 415 of title 14, so the citation would be 14 CFR 415.
Between the annual issuances of a particular section, the monthly publication CFR List of Sections Affected keeps information current. Govinfo.gov has this publication online for 1997 to the present.
The Government Publishing Office also offers an electronic current CFR—the eCFR—which is kept up to date and is easily searchable. However, this version of the CFR is not acceptable as an official document for legal purposes.
Other than the actual index to the CFR, there are few official aids to finding regulatory information. The Blume Library has a print copy of the latest index, in the Documents Collection at AE 2.106/3-2: . Several commercial products exist, however, which are designed to keep people in business, and other fields, abreast of new developments which may affect their work. The Law Library subscribes to many of these services in different areas. Ask a Law Librarian for assistance.
Regulations.gov and the National Archives provide information to enable public comments on proposed regulations.