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Pritzker Legal Research Center

Federal Administrative Law

A guide to researching federal regulations, agency decisions and Presidential documents.

Introduction to Federal Administrative Law

Federal administrative law refers to law created by the executive branch, both agencies and the President.  Most often the phrase administrative law is used to refer to the body of agency-made law "consisting of administrative rules, regulations, reports, or opinions containing findings of fact, and orders." (Black's Law Dictionary, 10th Edition).

In general, federal administrative law is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§500-559. Congress also passes enabling statutes that establish agencies and delegate powers to them. Acting within the confines of their delegated powers and the APA, agencies create regulations or rules (the terms are used interchangeably).

In addition to the quasi-legislative role of rulemaking, agencies can also have a quasi-judicial role.  The terminology used for the adjudicatory functions of agencies varies from agency to agency.   Decisions in disputed cases may be referred to as decisions or opinions, but they may also be called orders or releases.  

This guide is designed to provide assistance with researching federal regulations, agency decisions and Presidential documents.    

Guides to Administrative Law



This research guide was last revised and updated on 1/04/2019.