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Administrative Law: Federal Agency Decisions

A guide designed for first year law students on the MU Law Library's resources for federal regulatory law.


Agency decisions and adjudications are governed by the Administrative Procedure Act. Agencies are given the power to not only issue regulations, but to also interpret their own rules by issuing decisions. These kinds of proceedings are an exercise of judicial power by an administrative agency. Agency adjudications can be formal or informal. Formal adjudications are much like the traditional adversarial process with witness testimony, a written record and final decision rendered. On the other hand, informal adjudications are decisions made using various forms of inspections, conferences and negotiations.

Such decisions are made by Administrative Law Judges based on their reasoned analysis, findings of fact and conclusions of law. These decisions can be appealed to the highest authority of the agency.  Findings of fact in administrative adjudications are non-binding unless supported by substantial evidence. Judicial review is limited to questions of law only.

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.

Federal Agency Decisions

Administrative law judges conduct hearings and issue decisions for federal agencies. Many of these decisions are available through the agency's website.


Federal Agency Directories

  • United States Government Manual (govinfo)
    1995-present. This annual publication is the official handbook of the U.S. federal governent and provides descriptions of the programs and activities of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It provides departmental organizational charts that show the reporting structure between agencies and citations to the legislation that created the agency.
  • A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies 
    Provides links to the official websites of federal agencies and sub-agencies.