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Guide to Government Information

Federal Depository Library Program

Federal Depository Library Program eagle logo

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its government's information. Since 1813, depository libraries have safeguarded the public's right to know by collecting, organizing, maintaining, preserving, and assisting users with information from the federal government. The FDLP provides government information at no cost to designated depository libraries throughout the country and territories. These depository libraries, in turn, provide local, no-fee access to government information in an impartial environment with professional assistance.

As institutions committed to equity of access and dedicated to free and unrestricted public use, the nation's nearly 1,250 depository libraries serve as one of the vital links between "We the people" and our government. Anyone can visit federal depository libraries and use the federal depository collections which are filled with information on careers, business opportunities, consumer information, health and nutrition, legal and regulatory information, demographics, and numerous other subjects.

About Federal Government Publications

Government publications are issued by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government. The following section gives information about the three branches of the federal government and the publications they issue.

Executive Branch

The executive branch of government enforces the laws of the land. It was established in Article II of the Constitution. Many laws enacted by Congress require agencies to issue regulations. Executive branch agencies are granted the power to implement regulations relating to matters within their jurisdiction. Regulations are published daily in the Federal Register and are then codified in the Code of Federal Regulations once a year.

Judicial Branch

The judicial branch of government is established in Article III of the Constitution with the creation of the Supreme Court. This court is the highest court in the country and is empowered with the judicial powers of the government. There are lower Federal courts but they were not created by the Constitution. Rather, Congress deemed them necessary and established them using power granted from the Constitution. Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution. A court's authority to decide constitutionality is called judicial review.

 Legislative Branch

The legislative branch of government has the authority to make laws for the nation. It was established in Article I of the Constitution with the creation of Congress. Congress is made up of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Agencies such as the Government Publishing Office, Library of Congress, Congressional Budget Office, and the General Accounting Office, that provide support services for the Congress are also part of the legislative branch.

Recommended websites - Provides free online access to official federal government publications.  Through govinfo  you are able to:

    • Search for documents and publications with the ability to refine and narrow your search
    • Browse for documents and publications by collections, federal agency, congressional committee, and date
    • Download documents and publication in multiple renditions or file formats

         For additional assistance using FDsys, there are tutorials available. - As the U.S. government's official web portal, makes it easy for the public to get U.S. government information and services on the web. also serves as the catalyst for the growing electronic government at all levels. State and local information is frequently included in the search results.

Finding Government Statistics

For guidance on finding statistics from federal agencies, consult the Government Statistics guide that will provide links to several broad publications as well as individual agencies and sub-agencies.