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Public Policy and Legislation

This guide is designed to help you find resources and information about public policy and legislation for research.

Public Policy

Public policy encompasses the decisions, regulations, guidelines, and rules that governments undertake to address and solve societal issues and fulfill the needs of the general public.

When researching public policy, there are an extensive array of topics that can be studied, including but not limited to education, healthcare, social welfare, civil and human rights, environmental protection, economic development, national security, and tax reform.

Public policies can be created at local, regional, national, or even international levels, depending on the scope and nature of the issue being addressed. In addition, public administration is the study and application of said government policies, including both government and nongovernment management.


Legislation refers to the preparation and enactment of laws by a legislative body through its lawmaking process. The legislative process includes evaluating, amending, and voting on proposed laws and is concerned with the words used in the bill to communicate the values, judgments, and purposes of the proposal.

Once legislation is passed, government agencies develop the law through regulations and other guidance and enforce the law by litigation and with adjudicative authority.

Policy Issues Noted by the U.S. Department of State

On their website, the U.S. Department of State provides a list of current policy issues, along with associated government bureaus and offices.

Government Documents Search Tip

A large percentage of government information is available online directly from federal and state agencies and departments. Use the following search trick to help you as you begin your research:

  • Enter "site:gov + keyword(s)" This will search your keyword(s) on all sites that have a .gov domain
    • Ex: site:gov public school lunch nutritional policies
  • You can also use this trick to search within a specific government website
    • Ex: isle de jean charles climate refugees
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