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Government Documents: Federal Government

Finding government information

General information

The United States federal government publishes an enormous amount of information.  Most of it is available through Agency websites and much of it is also available in print. The MSUM library houses a collection of paper federal documents available to all library users.

The majority of current and up-to-date information can be found using a variety of methods from search tools at the Government Printing Office website to fine-tuned searches within agency websites. Unfortunately, Google searches are often not a productive way to find government information because many agencies aren't designed to allow for such search tools.

Finding federal government information

The United States Constitution
A digital, annotated text copy of the United States Constitution.

GovInfo
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A service of the U.S. Government Publication Office (GPO) that provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the federal government.

Congress.gov
The official website for U.S. federal legislative information, providing access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public.
Congress.gov supersedes the THOMAS system which was retired on July 5, 2016.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
The finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive information for historical and current publications as well as direct links for the full document, when available. Search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general keywords, or use the Advanced Search for more options.

Supreme Court of the United States
The official website of the U.S. Supreme Court. Includes the Court calendar and schedule, background information about the Court and justices, Court rules, Bar admissions information, case handling guides, and public information, including a visitor's guide. The site features an internal search engine.

Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Basic Collection
Every federal despository library is required to have the titles in the "basic collection" accessible for immediate use. These titles are all searchable online and cover the three branches of governments' most important information.

Government Forms, by Agency
Find many federal forms fairly easily on this website.

USA.gov
The mission of this website is to "create and organize timely, needed government information and services and make them accessible to the public."

Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids 
This website is designed to inform students, parents, and educators about the Federal Government.

Statistical Resources on the Web 
From the University of Michigan Documents Center, a subject arrangement of online (primarily) government document statistical resources. "The University of Michigan Documents Center has put together a great collection of Statistical Resources on the Web. All categories of statistical resources are included from Statistical Resources on Agriculture, Government, Business, Foreign Trade, Consumers, Health, Demographics, Labor, Education, Science and much more! These statistical resources are updated continually." [Curt Davis]
  

Electronic Embassy
The Electronic Embassy provides information on each of the embassies in Washington D.C., with links to Web-based resources where available.

Abbreviations and Acronyms of the U.S. Government
A list of abbreviations and acronyms used by the U.S. Government.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent and Trademark Searching 
An excellent resource for locating patents and trademarks.  See also the European Union Patent Office site.

Healthfinder
Created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this site consists of many health and human services links, including dictionaries and other databases. 
Related: Merck Manual Consumer Edition.

Census of Agriculture
The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of US Farms and ranches and the people who operate them, including small plots of land if $1,000 or more of product is raised and sold during the Census year. The Census of Agriculture is taken every five years and looks at land use and ownership; operator characteristics; production practices; and income and expenditures.