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Researching Federal Agencies

This guide highlights resources for writing Agency Profiles. Particularly relevant to PUAD 502 (Conant)

Top sources by Agency Profile section

Leadership, Mission, Structure/Org Chart

Try the agency/department/commission website, or go straight to the U.S. Government Manual for a concise profile.

Core Statutory Law

  1. Use the US Government Manual to locate the popular name and U.S. Code citation of the law that created your agency (link with tutorial provided above). Example U.S. Code citation: 42 U.S.C. 5801.
  2. Locate the law in the United States CodeIn the above example, start at Title 42 of the U.S. Code, then navigate to section 5801.

Administrative Rules

Agencies' rules and regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The easiest way to find your agency's rules is in the electronic CFR or eCFR using these instructions:

Congressional Hearings

You have to find two kinds of hearings: appointment confirmation hearings and recent hearings (at the beginning of a new administration, those will often be the same thing!). Follow these instructions to locate hearings involving your agency, then narrow the search results by date or topic. You can also search for news coverage of hearings involving your agency.

Departmental Budget Appropriations or Authority

The appendix to the Budget of the United States (The President's Budget) includes: 

  • the actual appropriation for one preceding fiscal year
  • the estimated appropriation for the current fiscal year, and
  • the estimated [requested] appropriation for the next fiscal year

THEREFORE: you can get to five years' appropriations figures by looking at five years of the Budget, and pulling the actual appropriation for your agency in each of these years (see handout).

Note: You may find conflicting numbers in agency Green Books, or other documents produced by the agency. You are not required to report on these, but you may do so if you choose.

News & Think Tank Perspectives

You'll find a lot on Google. These resources can also be helpful.