Regulations Background

Regulations are created by agencies of the executive branch of US government in order to enforce the laws made by the legislative branch. Thus, regulations have the force and effect of law.

For a fuller explanation of the relationship of regulations to the primary legislation that authorizes them, see the Wikipedia articles on Delegated Legislation and the Administrative Procedure Act.

For a good explanation of the Rulemaking process and the Federal Register (FR), see the following articles from the GPO: Federal Register tutorial and the rulemaking process.

Regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The GPO also has a good introduction to the CFR. For many of the laws that require federal agencies to create regulations regarding grants and agreements, OMB first publishes guidance to the federal agencies in Title 2 of the CFR, Subtitle A. Each federal agency then publishes its own set of regulations and puts them into the CFR (via the rulemaking process, when required). For a good explanation of this guidance/regulation process, read 2 CFR 1.

Regulations published in the CFR also often provide citations to the pages in the Federal Register (FR) in which the regulation was published/amended. If you decide to dig deeply into any particular regulation, tracing back from the CFR version to the FR publication(s) and further to the USC and/or even the original legislation can often provide valuable insight for understanding the regulation itself. References to the laws that the regulations are meant to execute/enforce (the authorizing laws) are cited in the “Authorities” section of each regulation.

A note on finding federal publications on the web: is an awesome resource for finding all sorts of government documents. If you're looking for a specific entry in the Federal Register (for example) simply enter the reference (in the form "vv FR nnnnn" - where vv is the volume number and pppp the page number in question) in the search box. Check it out.

Laws start out as Acts of Congress. Once signed by the President, they are recorded as Public Laws (PL) or as Statutes at Large. Eventually, most laws are translated into the United States Code. This Wikipedia article gives an excellent, concise background on how laws are translated to the Code. And the GPO offers good background on how the U. S. Code (USC) works.

Regulations aren't the only way the Executive Branch enforces Congress' legislation. Executive Orders also have the force and effect of law. For more on EOs, see this Wikikpedia article on the topic.

For more detail on the relationship of 2 CFR 200 to its various agency implementations, see About 2 CFR 200.

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