Government Publications

United States Government Publications

Superintendent of Documents Classification Numbers

The Federal Government publications are arranged by the classification number designed by the Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc). Publications are grouped together by issuing agency.

The example below shows how a Superintendent of Documents classification number is constructed using the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin as a sample: (J 1.14/8: 48/983)

J 1.14/8 FBI 48/ 983 means: Justice Department (issuing agency) FBI (subordinate bureau within the agency) Number designating the volume Year of publication (1983)

Catalog of United States Government Publications (CGP)

The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general key word, or click on “Advanced Search” for more options.

The catalog offers readers and researchers the option to find a nearby Federal Depository Library that has a particular publication or that can provide expert assistance in finding and using related US government information. Click on the title of interest from your search results list. Then click on the Locate in a Library link within the displayed record.

There are three methods for retrieving Federal Depository Library information:

  • Clickable Map: clicking on the applicable state, commonwealth or territory on the map provided
  • Basic FDLD Search: search by keyword in the Keyword search box below the map
  • Advance FDLD Search: search by specific types of data, such as Depository number, ZIP or area code, etc. in a single or multiple field search below the Basic search

Also the CGP offers a federated search engine, called MetaLib, to retrieve reports, articles and citations by simultaneously searching across multiple US Federal Government databases. MetaLib, then, is a federated search engine that searches multiple U.S. Federal government databases, retrieving reports, articles, and citations while providing direct links to selected resources available online.

The primary catalog of all government documents issued by the Government Printing Office from 1895-present is the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications (MoCat). It indexes the publications by subject, title, author and also by keywords in the title. The paper edition (1895-1992) is on paper in some libraries. Since 1993, this publication has been provided in microfiche format and is in the GovDocs microfiche collection under the SuDoc number GP 3.8.

Indexes to Government Publications

There are several sets of printed indexes, published by private publishers, which might be helpful in locating documents pre-dating 1976, or those that may be too current to have yet been loaded online.

  • U.S. Serial Set Index (1789-1969) indexes 180 years of Congressional Journals and administrative reports, congressional reports on public and private legislation considered, reports resulting from congressional commissions, and other related information.
  • CIS US Congressional Committee Hearings Index (1833-1969) covers published hearings from the earliest years through 1969. It provides comprehensive index access to the subject matter and issues covered in all hearings held during this period, indexing bills and laws discussed, Federal Agencies concerned, witnesses who testified, and the organizations represented.
  • CIS Index to Presidential Executive Orders and Proclamations provides comprehensive access to Executive Orders and Proclamations issued from 1789-1983.
  • CIS Annual Index provides access to Congressional publications, post-1970, such as hearings and committee prints, Committee Documents and Committee Reports, and helps the user locate information within them.
  • CIS Congressional Masterfile (CD ROM) searchable index covering all CIS publications 1789-present
  • CIS Lexis Nexis Congressional: CCH Congressional Index provides information on the status and history of legislation and other matters in Congress. Public bills and resolutions are also listed, summarized and indexed, including their status from introduction to final disposition.
  • Index to U.S Government Periodicals (1970-1987), provides a subject index to articles of lasting reference and research value published in periodicals issued by various agencies in the U.S Government.

Government Publications: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Government Publications. This part provides references, in relation to Government Publications, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Government Publications by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Government Publications and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Government Publications or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Government Publications and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Government Publications. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Government Publications should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Government Publications when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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