Federal Agency Documents

Federal agencies issue several different types of guidance to explain and interpret the application of statutes to particular situations. All of these different forms of guidance are binding , although the degree to which each is binding depends on the type of guidance and the agency involved. Additionally, a court that is trying to interpret a particular statutory provision may take existing regulatory guidance into consideration and defer to the interpretation by the government agency that is charged with the authority to interpret the provision.

In considering administrative agency guidance, it is important to bear in mind that the guidance is valid based on the statute as it was in effect at the time the guidance was issued. Often, statutory changes or court decisions alter the applicable rules and, as a result, administrative guidance may no longer be valid. Another point to bear in mind is that just because one agency issues a ruling or regulation governing a particular situation, that does not mean that a court interpreting a statutory provision cannot apply a different interpretation. Courts usually defer to administrative interpretations, but they do not always do so.

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