A few weeks ago I wrote about one of my favorite government websites – regulations.gov. Another one of my favorites also has to do with regulations – federalregister.gov. This government website contains an unofficial version of the daily Federal Register, but it’s so useful that I think it’s a great place to research in the Federal Register. Even using the unofficial version, you can always get to an official pdf version once you’ve found the section of the FR you want.
One of the reasons I think most people will like it is the modern web design. Government websites often boast dated web designs, but not at federalregister.gov. One of the things I like is that it has a search engine that seems much improved from what was previously available on GPO Access and even what is available now on FDsys.
The search box is in the top right corner and searches through all FR content at the site. Results are ranked by relevance (or date if you like) and there are a number of ways to filter your search. Here’s an example of searching egregious cases, which was the example I used in the post about regulations.gov. Clicking on the title gives you the html version of this section of the Federal Register, but on the right-hand side you can find a link to the pdf of the official version.
The other thing I really like about federalregister.gov is that it provides an index to the Federal Register. The index is organized by agency and gives a quick look at what’s available in the FR by the agency. While searching is great, one of the things I miss about print is a good index. Very few online sources, especially free sources, have access to an index. I hope that FR 2.0 will be seen as a leader in this area and spur others to create free online indexes.
There’s a lot more to federalregister.gov, including a quick glance at what’s in the current issue, but that’s probably enough for today.
Federalregister.gov gives legal researchers a great option for searching the FR for free and I hope you’ll take the time to check it out.