In the previous post, I discussed the basics of U.S. government (its levels, branches, and how to approach finding government information). Now I'll list some of the best places to find government information, both by government branch and with a list of popular documents. First, here are a few places to start a search for government information, particularly when you're not sure what branch or agency might have collected the information that you need:
- U.S. Statistical Abstract: current volume through ProQuest (CUL-affiliates only); previous years through Census website
- Census Bureau: American FactFinder
- FDsys (GPO's Federal Digital System)
Government Resources, by Branch
Information for many federal government agencies is centrally located in FDsys (the Federal Digital System).
- Chart of congressional sessions & years
- FDsys: contains many congressional bills, docs, hearings, etc. (see right-hand navigation menu). In some cases, specific committees may not make their hearings available on FDsys until the year has ended–in this case, check ProQuest (below).
- ProQuest Congressional: comprehensive database (1789 to present) covering bills, laws, legislative histories, House & Senate documents & reports, congressional hearings, committee prints, Congressional Record, Congressional Research Service reports, & more.
- CQ Press (Congressional Quarterly) Library: resources on Congress, elections, & more, including: CQ Weekly (great place to start, easy-to-digest format), CQ Press Congress Collection: (bios & voting tallies for members of Congress), and CQ Almanac (accounts of every major piece of legislation, browseable by topic or by session)
- Tracking legislation, transparency: GovTrack.us, OpenCongress
- U.S. law:
- Statutes at Large (Public Laws): arranged chronologically by when a bill was passed. NOTE: the most current issues are not available online; Columbia affiliates may use the print copies at the Law Library.
- United States Code (USC): arranged topically, updated to include new statutes.
- Public Papers of the President: contain most of the President's public messages, statements, speeches, and news conference remarks.
- current/recent administration (via NARA)
- previous administrations
- Executive Orders:
- current administration (via White House)
- previous administrations: annually printed as Title 3-The President in The Code of Federal Regulations: 1996 – present in FDsys
- previous administrations via NARA (including those before 1996)
- USA.gov Departments & Agencies: a directory of agencies and departments
- Supreme Court
- Understanding Federal Courts
- LexisNexis Academic (limited to CUL): concluded legal cases (if you can't locate a case, if may not be covered in LN Academic–you can use the Law Library, which has access to LN Classic).
- Bloomberg Law (limited to CUL, terminals in Watson Library or Journalism Bldg.): ongoing legal cases (type BLAW and hit <GO>)–see training page
- Law Chart: legal entities and where to find the laws they create
Other Popular Government Areas & Documents
- United States Budget
- Regulations: Congress passes legislation. The text of the legislation authorizes an agency, or agencies, to develop detailed rules to conform with the legislation. Executive Agencies issue regulations (rules). Both legislation and regulations have the force of law.
- Federal Register: Agencies propose, open for comment, and finally publish "Final Rules."
- Code of Federal Regulations: Regulations (Final Rules) are compiled & codified under "Titles."
- Foreign Relations & Policy
- State Department
- FRUS: Foreign Relations of the United States (also at UWDC)
- Treaties in Force
- FBIS Daily Reports (via Readex)
- CIA World Factbook
- CRS Reports (learn more about these reports in this blog post)
- Census Bureau's American FactFinder
- NARA's National Center for Declassified Documents
- A Guide to FOIA (check the "Popular FOIA Requests" tab!)