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Government Documents  

Your guide to government documents
Last Updated: Mar 28, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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What are Government Documents?


A Government Document is a catch all term for any and all information produced by any government agency.


Government documents come from various sources:

• The federal government

• State agencies

• Local organizations

• International organizations


The term “document” is often misleading, since government documents come in a variety of forms:

• Books

• Pamphlets

• Posters

• Periodicals

• Maps

• CDs


What are Government Documents good for?

The US Government publishes information on a wide variety of topics: everything from pet care to technical research. In general, government documents will be of most use to those doing research in the social sciences and sciences. You might want to look for government documents if you need any of the following:


Statistics: the government publishes a huge amount of statistics on every conceivable subject. The US Federal Census and the Consumer Price Index are two examples.


Social Issues: Examples include world hunger, education, adoption, or unemployment.

Legal Research: If you need to track legislation or look up laws or court cases, then you’ll be using government documents.

History: There is a great deal of government information of interest to students of both local, American and international history. 

Scientific Research: Government agencies spend billions of dollars each year on scientific research, and most of the reports on this research are available for free. NASA publications are one example.




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Government Documents



United States Government Manual  is the official handbook of the Federal government. It provides information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on international organizations in which the United States participates, and boards, commissions, and committees. This site provides access to government manuals from 1995-96 to the present.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance  provides a full listing of all Federal programs available to state and local governments (including the District of Columbia); federally-recognized Indian tribal governments; Territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public,  private profit and nonprofit organizations,  and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals. This site provides access to the CFDA from 2008 to the present.

Code of Federal Regulations  is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. The 50 subject matter titles contain one or more individual volumes, which are updated once each calendar year, on a staggered basis. This site contains annual CFR reports from 1996 to the present.

Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules and notices of Federal agencies and organizations. Also included are executive orders and other presidential documents. It is published Monday through Friday. This site contains data from 1994 to the present.


Compilation of Presidential Documents This collection consists of the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents and the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents which are the official publications of materials released by the White House Press Secretary. Supplementary materials include Acts Approved by the President and Nominations Submitted to the Senate. This site contains presidential documents from 1992 to the present.

Budget of the United States Government  Issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President's budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. This site contains budget information from 1996 to the present.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States  Each volume in this series contains documents that were issued during a specific period. Documents types include addresses and remarks, joint statements, appointments and nominations, and communications with federal agencies. Photographic portfolios contain photographs of the President at various events throughout the year. Material is presented in chronological order.


Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. The CR consists of four sections: the Daily Digest, the House section, the Senate Section, and the Extension of Remarks. This site contains the CR from 1994 to the present.

Congressional Directory

is the official directory of the United States Congress. The Directory includes short biographies of each member of the Senate and House, listed by state or district, and additional data, such as committee memberships, terms of service, administrative assistants, and contact information.


Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics is a repository of over 200 sources for criminal justice information. Statistics are gathered from federal and state agencies, universities, research centers and private companies.

Crime in the United States (Uniform Crime Report) is a collection of annual crime statistics reported by over 15,000 law enforcement agencies, and published by the FBI. Statistics include offense and arrest tables, and police employee tables. Also included are hate crime statistics, and law enforcement officers killed and assaulted statistics. This site included data from 1995 to the present.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) is a federally funded resource offering justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide.


Digest of Education Statistics provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. It includes a selection of data from many sources, both government and private, and draws especially on the results of surveys and activities carried out by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This site includes statistics from 1995 to the present.

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) is an online digital library of education research and information. ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Find Government Information Online

Congressional Research Service Reports

 The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a think tank that provides research reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events.

Various collections of Congressional Research Service Reports are found at the following sites:




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