Researching the History of a Regulation

Agencies propose new regulations, open them for comment, and publish "Final Rules" in the Federal Register (FR).

Regulations (Final Rules) are compiled and codified (systematically organized) under "Titles" in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

To find the history of the regulation,

  • Open Hein Online and navigate to the Federal Register/Code of Federal Regulations Library.
  • Locate the Final Rule in the Federal Register. Note: Entries in the Code of Federal Regulations will include the Federal Register numbers.
  • Look for the Supplementary Information published under the final rule. This is where you will find a history of the legislation behind the regulation and a summary of the comments that were made during the open comment period along with the agency's response to those comments. 
  • If desired, use the footnote citation in the Federal Register to find the Statute that authorizes the agency to propose and implement rules to meet the general requirements of the law. 
  • Search Statutes at Large, also in Hein Online.

Some publicly available resources

These publicly available online resources below may also be helpful for researching the history or background of more recent regulations (within the last decade or so): 

  • Code of Federal Regulations
    From the Government Printing Office.
  • Federal Register
    PDFs of the official Federal Register, via FDsys.
  • Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government:
     "This HTML version is presented in a unique web journal format known as “Federal Register 2.0,” or “FR2.” In the future, this site will be presented to the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register for their determination as to whether it should be granted official status under 1 CFR 5.10." [, User Information]
    The eRulemaking Program Management Office, with the assistance of partner Federal agencies, manages The eRulemaking Program was created in 2002 as an E-Government project and is managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Provides access to proposed rules, the rulemaking dockets (including public comments), and final rules of participating agencies.*

*A Non Participating agency is a Federal agency that publishes Federal Register documents on but does not participate in the eRulemaking program; therefore, public comments and additional supporting documentation are not posted on In order to view these comments, users should contact the agency directly. In order to find the contact, reference the section in the Federal Register entitled "For further information contact."  [ FAQs]