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Find Policies and Legal Research: Government Websites

Introduction to government websites

Governments regularly publish information that cannot be found anywhere else. For that reason, it is a good idea to supplement your legal database searches by searching various government websites. Some government websites provide access to official policy documents, while others focus more on data and statistics. Please review the government websites on this page to see if they are relevant for your research needs.

For more information on government websites, try the following resource: 

Government websites

  • USA.gov
  • GovInfo (formerly FDsys) 
    GovInfo is the United States government's database of government documents, covering documents and records from all three branches of the federal government.
  • Congress.gov
 

MetaLib is a federated search engine that searches multiple U.S. Federal government databases, retrieving reports, articles, and citations while providing direct links to selected resources available online.

"Official handbook" of the Federal Government. Describes agency activities and programs of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of Government, as well as activities and programs of quasi-official agencies and international organizations in which the United States participates as a member.

The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive information for historical and current publications as well as direct links to the full document, when available. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general keywords, or click on "Advanced Search" for more options.

Federal

The Federal Register is the official daily publication for the Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of federal agencies and organizations, as well as Executive Orders, Proclamations and other Presidential Documents.
 

Information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Select a state from the US map to view a statistical overview and use the drop down boxes to narrow by county or city.

Users can find Federal proposed and final rules published every business day by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in the U.S. government's Federal Register, and submit comments through the web site to the Agencies on proposed rules that are open for public comment.

The Census of Governments identifies the scope and nature of the nation's state and local government sector; provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance and public employment; classifies local government organizations, powers, and activities; and measures federal, state, and local fiscal relationships. The data are available by: level of government (state, local, or state and local combined), type of government (state, county, city, township, special district, school district), and category of governmental activity.

As part of the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is responsible for tracking the U.S. labor market, as well as working conditions and price changes.

On the Data and Statistics page, you will find current and historical statistics on a broad range of topics and sub-populations of women in the labor force.

Comprehensive collection of material about the Presidents of the United States and the history of the presidency from the University of Virginia.

Collection of documents related to the presidency including inaugural address, executive orders, party platforms, candidates' remarks, Statements of Administration Policy, documents released by the Office of the Press Secretary, and election debates.

This site from the National Archives is an online version of the out-of-print Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders. It covers documents from April 13, 1945 to January 20, 1989.

Portal for all of the presidential libraries.

From the U.S. Senate Library, Presidential vetoes from 1789 to the present are listed with accompanying historical context.

The papers and speeches of the President of the United States that were issued by the Office of the Press Secretary. Electronic access begins in 1991.

The official White House web site provides access to Executive Orders, Proclamations, audio and transcripts of press briefings, pending nominations, current news items, links to EOP agencies and departments, and more.

Official publication of presidential statements, messages and remarks. Electronic access begins in 1993.

"CAC is also the US Army’s lead organization for lessons learned, doctrine, training, education, and leader development managing the Army Leader Development Program, Army Profession Program, Army Training Support System Enterprise, Army Training and Education Management Enterprise and the Combat Training Center Program. The Combined Arms Center synchronizes 37 US Army schools through Army University educating and training more than 350,000 students annually, including nearly 10,000 students from 86 separate nations and over 10,000 sailors, airmen, and Marines from the Joint Force."


State

StateMaster is a unique, statistical database which allows you to research and compare a multitude of different data on US states. They have compiled information from various primary sources such as the US Census Bureau, the FBI, and the National Center for Educational Statistics. StateMaster goes beyond the numbers to provide you with visualization technology like pie charts, maps, graphs and scatterplots. We also have thousands of map and flag images, state profiles, and correlations.

Directory of state agency databases for all branches of government.

Organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy.

Excellent source for tracking policy issues across the 50 states. Some portions of the site are restricted to members only. NCSL also publishes the journal State Legislatures which we have in print and full text online.

The National Governors Association (NGA) is the bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors. Through NGA, governors share best practices, speak with a collective voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.

The State and Local Finance Initiative (SLFI) is an Urban Institute project in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. The initiative equips policymakers, citizens, and the media with tools to understand and address the fiscal challenges and opportunities facing state and local governments. SLFI provides current, reliable, and unbiased research, data, and analysis. The initiative integrates knowledge across policy domains and government levels to give decision makers the best possible information to navigate among competing options and understand tradeoffs.


Local

The National League of Cities is a resource and advocate for the nation's cities and their leaders.

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,408 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor

A nonprofit organization fostering innovation in environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and social equity. Site includes climate change, energy, community design, water, healthy communities case studies and reports.

  • National Association of Counties (NACo)

Federal

Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service. Supersedes Thomas.gov.

Portal for the House of Representatives.

Portal for the Senate.

The United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States. It is divided by broad subjects into 53 titles and published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A user-friendly searchable database of U.S. Code. May contain more updated versions of the Code than the FDsys resource. Offers the ability to search the Code by popular name of a law (e.g. Clean Air Act) using the Popular Name Tool.

The United States Statutes at Large, typically referred to as the Statutes at Large, is the permanent collection of all laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress. The Statutes at Large is prepared and published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Public and private laws are also known as slip laws. A slip law is an official publication of the law and is competent evidence admissible in all state and Federal courts and tribunals of the United States. Public laws affect society as a whole, while private laws affect an individual, family, or small group.

Provides program descriptions and historical data on a wide variety of social and economic topics, including Social Security, employment, earnings, welfare, child support, health insurance, the elderly, families with children, poverty and taxation. It has become a standard reference work for those interested in the direction of social policy in the United States. It is compiled by the staff of the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives.
 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a federal agency that provides economic information and revenue projections for Congress. They provide "objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget."

The Statement of Disbursements (SOD) is a quarterly public report of all receipts and expenditures for U.S. House of Representatives Members, Committees, Leadership, Officers and Offices. The House has been required by law to publish the SOD since 1964.

Directory of all currently-serving members of Congress.

"GovTrack.us tracks the United States Congress and helps Americans understand what is going on in their national legislature. We publish the status of federal legislation, information about your representative and senators in Congress including voting records, and original research on GovTrack Insider." Use GovTrack to track bills for updates by getting alerts and understand the broader context of legislation through our statistical analyses.

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. However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) does not provide direct public access to its reports, nor are they released to the public via the Federal Library Depository Program (FDLP). There are several organizations that collect and give access to subsets of published CRS Reports. This collection attempts to bring all CRS Reports together in one place.

Information on political issues, campaigns, and candidates, including voting records for both federal and state officials. Identify your representatives by entering your zip code. As a national library of factual information, Project Vote Smart covers your candidates and elected officials in five basic categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances and interest group ratings.

Directory of currently-serving senators.

The Institute researches and archives a 50-state federal/state database of contributions documenting $50+ billion, plus more than 2 million state lobbyist-client relationships that are registered annually. Recent expansions include selected local-level data, collecting independent spending reports for federal campaigns and in 31 states, and lobbying spending in 20 states.

The Center for Responsive Politics is a non-partisan, non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy. The Center conducts computer-based research on campaign finance issues for the news media, academics, activists, and the public at large. The Center’s work is aimed at creating a more educated voter, an involved citizenry, and a more responsive government.

The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act 2010 (P.L. No. 111-68) amended 2 U.S.C. 104(a), to require the posting of the semiannual report of the Secretary of the Senate on the Senate Web site. Since 1823, the Secretary of the Senate has published the semiannual statements covering the periods from October 1st to March 31st and April 1st to September 30th of each year.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation consists of a linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875. This online collection houses the records of the U.S. Congress up to 1875, which includes the first three volumes of the Congressional Record, published by the Government Printing Office.

State

The National Conference of State Legislatures offers a huge number of substantive, comparative articles on state laws. Typically, activities of states at the forefront of the issue are highlighted on the website, and for many topics there are tables and databases listing state laws and bills with citations.

This database contains information gleaned from the home pages and websites of the fifty state legislatures, the District of Columbia and the Territories. You can select to view specific website content materials (such as, bills, press rooms, statutes) from one state at a time.

Open States lets you find information about your state representatives and legislation. This tutorial provides an overview on how to use Open States to identify your representative, search and track legislation, explore bill history and votes and contact lawmakers.

Compiles data from various sources to compare U.S. state statistics graphically. Sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI and the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Local

My Congressional District gives you quick and easy access to selected statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau through the American Community Survey (ACS) and County Business Patterns (CBP). The ACS provides detailed demographic, social, economic, and housing statistics every year for the nation's communities. CBP provides annual statistics for businesses with paid employees at a detailed geography and industry level. My Congressional District is powered by ACS and CBP data through the Census Application Programming Interface (API).

The Redistricting Game is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. Currently, the political system in most states allows the state legislators themselves to draw the lines. This system is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest.

 
 
 

Federal

Portal for the Supreme Court. Includes docket, schedule, rules, opinions, orders, and related web sites.

Official site produced by the U.S. Administrative Office of the Courts. As such, the site includes a great deal of information about the federal court system in the United States.

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information online from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts, and the PACER Case Locator. PACER is provided by the Federal Judiciary in keeping with its commitment to providing public access to court information via a centralized service.

Collaborative project of publishers, legal scholars, computer scientists, government agencies, and other groups and individuals that promote open access to law, worldwide. The LII publishes electronic versions of core materials in numerous areas of the law,  primarily on the Web. They range from the Constitution to the U.S. Code, from Supreme Court decisions to the Code of Federal Regulations as well as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Bankruptcy Procedure, and Criminal Procedure.

The Supreme Court Database is the definitive source for researchers, students, journalists, and citizens interested in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Database contains over two hundred pieces of information about each case decided by the Court between the 1791 and 2015 terms. Examples include the identity of the court whose decision the Supreme Court reviewed, the parties to the suit, the legal provisions considered in the case, and the votes of the Justices.

"CourtListener is a free legal research website containing millions of legal opinions from federal and state courts. With CourtListener, lawyers, journalists, academics, and the public can research an important case, stay up to date with new opinions as they are filed, or do deep analysis using our raw data."

Searchable database for federal court cases.

 

State

This page provides judicial branch links for each state, focusing on the administrative office of the courts, the court of last resort, any intermediate appellate courts, and each trial court level.

 

Local

Search by ZIP Code or city and state, using the state's two-letter postal code (e.g. Lincoln, NE), to find nearby court locations in your district or circuit. Or you may view all court website links grouped by state.

Executive

Portal for the United Nations, the intergovernmental organization that promotes international cooperation between nations.

Legislative

Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law.

Full text of the binding, constituent treaty between all member nations of the UN.

EU law and other public EU documents.

Globalex is a tool for researching foreign and international law. Guides include topics in human trafficking, terrorism, and the UN. Country guides preview over 100 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe; and they include information on procedure, case law, constitution, courts of last resort, etc.

Contains over 58,000 links to legal sites in more than 180 countries.

Judicial

Portal for the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946. The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

This site compiles legal data by nearly 900 databases from over 120 countries. It includes some case law, statutes, treaties, and reports. Individual site and aggregated searches are possible. Legal topics appear in the Catalog.

Other Resources

The OFFSTATS database provides access to free statistics from official sources on the web. Web links are arranged by countryregion or subject. The database can be searched by a single category, or a combination of categories. All of the content of the database is held in the public domain and is available through the Internet.

The European Union's statistics database contains data on general and regional EU statistics; economy and finance; population and social conditions; industry, trade and services; agriculture and fisheries; external trade; transport; environment and energy; and science and technology.

The IGO Custom Search Engine searches across hundreds of IGO websites, enabling users to research topics such as human rights, development, environment, education, HIV/AIDS and health from IGOs like the United Nations, World Bank, UN Development Program (UNDP), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union, Organization of American States, the Asian Development Bank and many others.

Searches across over a thousand NGO websites.

"We are part of the pan-European CESSDA Catalogue. From there you can locate data and variables from selected data collections stored at a number of European social science data archives. We also hold several key international survey series which can be found in our Data Catalogue."

The Global Health Observatory theme pages provide data and analyses on global health priorities. Each theme page provides information on global situation and trends highlights, using core indicators, database views, major publications and links to relevant web pages on the theme.

Directory of statistics agencies by country.

This guide will help you find resources focusing on statistical information.  It provides links to major organizations and institutes and to relevant documents and databases. It also highlights the collections of the UNOG Library and UNCTAD on the topic of statistics - both print and online resources (books, articles, journals, and databases). Many of these resources contain full-text documents. In addition, key websites and web feeds (RSS) have been selected by your UNOG librarians to help you to keep up-to-date on this subject.

Cross-nationally comparable statistics on education, science and technology, culture, and communication for more than 200 countries and territories.

The Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) assembles and codes information on the policy processes of governments from around the world. CAP enables scholars, students, policy-makers and the media to investigate trends in policy-making across time and between countries. It classifies policy activities into a single, universal and consistent coding scheme. CAP monitors policy processes by tracking the actions that governments take in response to the challenges they face. CAP’s consistent system uses 20 major topics and 200+ subtopics to code those activities. CAP actively monitors thirty different data series, all coded by this same predictable, reliable coding system. Our innovative Trends Tool makes it easy for researchers to explore all of the available data series, country-by-country or for multiple countries at once. The Datasets/Codebooks page allows students of the policy process to download any datasets to examine in greater depth, or to integrate them with data series from other sources. Individual country pages offer detailed descriptions of each country project’s research program, information and datasets particular to that country, the research teams, and specific information on the data series monitored.

ICMA identifies leading practices to address the needs of local governments and professionals serving communities globally. We provide services, research, publications, data and information, peer and results-oriented assistance, and training and professional development to thousands of city, town, and county leaders and other individuals and organizations throughout the world.

"UNPAN is designed to help countries, especially developing countries and countries in economic transition, to respond to the challenges that governments face in bridging the digital divide between the 'haves and have-nots' and to achieve their development goals."

"EIPA is the place where people who deal with European affairs can learn in a multicultural environment and benefit from a unique combination of practical know-how and scientific excellence. With its headquarters in Maastricht and Centres in Luxembourg and Barcelona, EIPA helps European public officials to meet the challenges of European Union policies and the complexities of modern public management."

"To assist governments in their efforts to improve transparency, accountability and service delivery, the Bank's work on governance and public sector management has two main focus areas. It helps strengthen public sector management systems within the executive branch, including the management of public finances and public employment. It also seeks to improve the broader governance environment within which the public sector operates, supporting institutions for public accountability, such as parliaments and offices of the ombudsman, and tracking improvements by measures of the rule of law, state legitimacy and trust in government institutions. Efforts to reduce the risk of corruption are prominent in both of these."

Constitute offers access to the world’s constitutions that users can systematically compare them across a broad set of topics. Users can find relevant passages in constitutions, filter searches, view excerpts in a list for comparison, and pin for further analysis.

This page allows you to search and download thousands of official documents from selected constitution building processes in the Americas, Asia and Africa. This material covers all stages of the constitution building process: the preparatory phase, the drafting, adoption, and implementation of the new constitution. The collection includes constitutional laws, official reports, draft laws, stakeholder resolutions, minutes of key meetings, rules of proceedings in constituent assemblies and national conferences.

Hosted by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, QOG offers a range of datasets available for free, a data visualization tool, as well as some tips and hints on the use of the data. The EU Regional Data consists of approximately 450 variables from Eurostat and other sources, covering three levels of European regions - country, major socio-economic regions and basic regions for the application of regional policies.

A directory of NGOs organized by region and topic.

A joint project of the Georgetown University Center for Latin American Studies and the Organization of American States, includes political information on all of the OAS members. Makes available constitutions, constitutional laws, political parties, electoral laws, election data, and current information about the politics of Latin America.

  • European Social Survey (ESS)
  • General Social Survey (GSS)
  • Globalbarometer Surveys (GBS)
  • Pew Global Attitudes Project
  • Polling the Nations
    Compilation of questions and responses from more than 12,000 national, state, local and special surveys. Includes polling from the U.S. and abroad.
  • Roper Center for Public Opinion Research
    The iPOLL databank offers access to nearly half a million survey questions and answers asked in the U.S. by more than 150 survey organizations from the 1930's to the present.
Since its inception in 1999, the Africa Center has served as a forum for research, academic programs, and the exchange of ideas with the aim of enhancing citizen security by strengthening the effectiveness and accountability of African institutions.
 
 
No longer active, but contains useful information for the time period 2006-2016. 
 
  • Freedom House
     
 

International directory of think tanks. 

 
The International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS) is an interdisciplinary association of Centers and Institutes throughout the world with interests in independent research and publication about political, constitutional, legal, administrative, fiscal, economic, historical and philosophical issues relevant to political systems which have federal features. The Association seeks to further the study and understanding of federal principles and patterns in all their variety.
 
Good source for information on international democracy and sustainable development. 
 
  • Think Tanks Search Engine
     
  • Jamestown Foundation
 
The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.
 
Transparency International's mission is to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society. Our Core Values are: transparency, accountability, integrity, solidarity, courage, justice and democracy.
 

The NGO Branch of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) administers the database of NGOs in Consultative Status with ECOSOC.

 

UNESCO's international directory of NGOs. Includes a map feature. 

 

The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations is a global organization whose mission is to serve its member organizations, strengthen and encourage the non-governmental sector as a whole, increase public understanding of the non-governmental community, and provide the mechanism and support needed for NGOs to connect, partner, and multiply their contributions to solve humanity's basic problems.