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Preambles to Final and Proposed Rules

When doing legislative history research, it is often useful to consider the preambles to final and proposed rules, which can frequently be found in the Federal Register.

A previous tip of the week described the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations Research Guide, a resource published by the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (LLSDC).

Access to final and proposed rules as included in the Federal Register is described in the guide:

  • Contents and Organization of the Federal Register and CFR.

  • “Since 1977 preambles to final and proposed rules have been required to contain certain headings and related material including the name of the agency, a brief line on the action being taken, a summary of the rule, the effective date of the rule (or date when comments are due), contact information, and supplementary information (see footnote 15). The supplementary information frequently provides a discussion of the background and need for the regulation, and in case of a final rule how it differs from the proposed rule as well as responses to comments made on the proposed rule.”

About the Federal Register:

  • “Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents”--From GPO Access.

  • Online access to the Federal Register can be found on GPO Access. It currently includes access to the Federal Register from 1994 (Volume 59) through 2006 (Volume 71).

  • For access to earlier volumes of the FR, contact the Federal Depository Library nearest you.