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Public Affairs, Public Service, and Public Administration: Government Documents

This guide includes resources for studying public affairs, public service, and public administration.

Indexes & Databases, the U.S. government's official web portal for the public to access government information and services on the web. It organizes its searchable content/pages by topics, departments and agencies, etc.

The databases at replace the venerable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and nine other specialized federal databases.

Govinfo, formerly FDSYS and GPO Access, provides free electronic access to official Government Publishing Office publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. The database offers advanced search, browse by collection and agency, and download in multiple file formats.

MetaLib, a federated search engine by GPO, that simultaneously searches across multiple U.S. Federal government databases, retrieves reports, articles, and citations with direct links to selected resources available online.

FDLP Passworded Databases listed on the Collection page of this guide are accessible in federal depository libraries to public users free of charge. 

Original Annotations Courtesy of Wen-Hua Ren, The John Cotton Dana Library

Other Guides


From county planning documents to the legal code of a nation, government documents are generated both to accomplish the work of government and to reach out to constituencies.  They can take nearly any format:  pamphlets, technical reports, full-size books, periodicals, data tables, electronic databases, websites.  Now most documents intended for public use are freely available on the Internet.

The sheer volume and variety of documents is staggering.  The U.S. Government Printing Office is the largest publisher in the world (  Keeping track of this information and preserving it are ever more challenging concerns.  In the United States many documents can be found through libraries designated as federal and state documents depositories.

Online and Print Catalogs

Federal Government Publications

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) is mounted by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) for materials published from 1976 to the present. The database contains information about publications of all types issued by the federal agencies, including monographs, periodicals, bulletins, reports, congressional documents, etc. It also provides links to full-text of many publications.

Monthly catalog of United States Government Publications (MOCAT) can be used to find bibligraphic records for federal documents published by the federal government agencies from 1895 to 1975.  This is a print publication found in Federal Documents Depository Libraries.

U.S. State Publications

Like the Federal Depository Library Program  for Federal documents, state depository library systems exist for documents issued by states.   State depository systems are often part of the programs at state libraries.  Documents can be found online or listed in the catalogs of individual depository libraries.

Worldcat from OCLC is one of the largest listings of library holdings around the world, with an emphasis on North America.  Federal, state, and local documents cataloged by all types of libraries can be found here.

Annotations Courtesy of Wen-Hua Ren, The John Cotton Dana Library

Legislative Material  (U.S. Congress)

Website for the U.S. Congress.  All material from the legacy Thomas site was moved over to in 2014.


State Legislative Websites Directory (National Conference of State Legislatures)

Legislative websites for all the states.


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