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Federal Administrative Law: Administrative Decisions

This guide serves as an introduction to federal administrative law. It includes research resources on federal agencies, The Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, treatises, administrative decisions and more.


Many agencies are given the power to not only issue regulations, but to also interpret their own rules by issuing decisions.  Many agencies may deny a license or issue a fine for not complying with their rules.  These decisions are not published in the Federal Register and there is not any one place where agency decisions are reported and available to be viewed by the public.  There is no one set of reporters that contains decisions of all agencies.  The way an agency publishes its decisions is determined by the individual agency.   Some agencies do publish their decision in a looseleaf form, which are updated every couple of weeks.

Gould Law Library Online Catalog

If the agency has a separate reporter or if there is a looseleaf available, the best way to find it is using the catalog.  Go to the library home page and open the Gould Law Library Online Catalog.  Do a keyword search of the name of the agency and the word “Decisions.”   

Online Sources

Agency web site

One place to look for agency decisions is the web page of the individual agency.  See the Agencies heading in this research guide.  On the agency web page, decisions may be found under the headings “litigation”, “interpretation”, “enforcement”, “adjudication” or “decisions.”

University of Virginia Library Government Information Resources

The University of Virginia has created a web page which lists agencies by subject and by the department of the government. It contains links to agency web pages which contain administrative decisions and other actions. 

Subscription Databases


On this database, you can go to the Directory at the top of the page and then click on Topical Practice Areas.  If you choose a specific area you will see a heading “Federal Administrative Materials” that are specific to that area of practice, which may contain agency decisions.  For example, if looking for decisions regarding Native American Law, you would click on the Directory and follow this path:

All Databases> Topical Materials by Area of Practice>Native American Law>Federal Administrative & Executive Materials>Interior Board of Indian Appeals Decisions (FNAM-IBIA).  Another method, is to go type the name of the agency in  the “Search by Database” box, and all administrative databases dealing with that agency will be listed, including any decisions by the agency.


Administrative decisions may be found from the Legal Tab. Point your mouse to Area of Law by Topic and then choose a topic.  You will see a heading for Find Administrative Materials & Regulations, which will provide the administrative materials available in that topic.  There may be additional choices including Federal Administrative Materials or State Administrative Materials.  You also may see, depending on the agency, the words “Agency Decisions.”  Below is the path to use if looking for decisions on Environmental law.

Legal>Area of Law – by Topic>Environment>Find Administrative Materials & Regulations> Federal Administrative Materials>Agency Decisions.


Subject Guide

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