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N.C. Administrative Law

Background Information

Agencies are part of the executive branch of the government. They are given the power to make law through rule-making and the power to resolve disputes through administrative adjudication, as well as the power to enforce their laws and decisions.

The vast majority of agencies in North Carolina are subject to both the Federal and North Carolina Administrative Procedure Acts (APA). The North Carolina APA is found in Chapter 150B of the North Carolina General Statutes. Article 2A contains the requirements for rule-making, which include comment and notice before adoption of a permanent rule. Articles 3 and 3A contain the requirements for administrative proceedings.

Helpful Background Reading

The following titles provide useful background information on agency rule-making and decision-making.

Rule Making in North Carolina (2005), by Richard B. Whisnant, provides in-depth background on agency rule-making and describes where rules can be found. (KFN7840 .W55 2005)

Legal Research in North Carolina (James C. Ray, ed., 2006), by Miriam J. Baer, provides a short background on agency rule-making and decision-making functions, describes where to find rules and decisions, and how to cite to them. (KFN7475 .B34 2006)

North Carolina Legal Research (Suzanne E. Rowe, ed., 2010), by Scott Childs, provides background on agency rule-making and decision-making functions and describes the best places and processes to find rules and decisions depending on what is known. (KFN7475 .C48 2010)

North Carolina Legal Research Guide (2nd ed., 2009), by Scott Childs & Nick Sexton, provides in-depth background and history on rule-making and describes where to find rules and related documents. Also provides background on decision-making and describes where to find administrative decisions and executive documents. (KFN7475 .K37 2009)

Finding the Law


Prior to 1939

No central depository of rules currently in force

Prior to 1985

Difficult to locate. Sometime after the court case of Orange Co. v. Dept. of Transp., 46 N.C. App 350 (1980), the NCAC was published in microfiche only. It was first published in paper in March 1987. The NC Register did not begin publication until April 1986.

Library has microfiche collection of NCAC beginning in 1981: KFN7435 1981 .A25 (microfiche)

After 1985

North Carolina Register

Primary & statutorily authorized publication in which notices of rule-making proceedings, texts of proposed rules, and final actions on rules are included.

Contains text of proposed rules, permanent rules approved by the Rules Review Commission, temporary rules entered into the NCAC, emergency rules entered into NCAC, executive orders of Governor, and index to published, contested admin decisions issued by OAH

Contains information relating to agency rulemaking, executive orders, contested case decisions & other notices by or affecting Chapter 150B of the general statutes. Each volume covers one fiscal year (July 1-June 30). Published twice a month.

In the library: KFN7434.A2 N67 (LexisNexis)

Scanned copies available via Internet Archive (from April 15, 1986-June 15, 2001) and NC Digital Collections (from July 2, 2001-November 1, 2011)

NC OAH website>Rules Division>NC Register
Volumes for current & previous fiscal years (in PDF & doc(x)) & archived volumes 15-24 (PDF) by issue & cumulative index

Westlaw (database NC-ADR) & Westlaw Next (from November 1, 2001)

LexisNexis (from January 01, 1998)

LexisNexis Academic (from January 01, 1998)

North Carolina Administrative Code

Official publication that sets out what rules have been adopted. 30 titles organized by subject matter.

In library: KFN7435 1998 .A26 (West)
From 1994 to 1997, published in looseleaf by Barclays Law Publishers: KFN7435 1995 .A25
From 1987 to 1994, published by OAH: KFN7435 1987 .A25

NC OAH website>Rules Division>NC Administrative Rules>Administrative Code Online
Free & updated weekly. Search by citation or keyword in title or fulltext. Browse by title. Subchapters & rules available in html, PDF or doc(x).

Westlaw (database NC-ADC) & Westlaw Next
Westlaw has historical codes back to 2002

LexisNexis (updated quarterly)

LexisNexis Academic (updated regularly)

Individual agency websites may have the rules they promulgated online

Related Documents

Rules Review Commission Meetings

NC OAH website>Rules Division>Rules Review Commission>Meeting Archives (goes back to June 2005)

Forms for Rule Making

NC OAH website>Rules Division>Forms

Reports of Rules already filed

NC OAH website>Rules Division


Prior to 1998, OAH maintains a paper copy of decisions back to January 1986 when OAH was established.

Beginning in 1998, most administrative decisions have been published annually as a separate volume of the NCAC each year, beginning at vol. 21. The volumes include the fulltext of all administrative decisions released for publication, as well as the ALJ recommended decisions and all final agency decisions submitted to the OAH. The decisions are organized by month. Within each volume, at the end of each month’s decisions, is a list of decisions reported that month without published opinions.

In library, from 1998 to present, as part of the NCAC: KFN7435 1998 .A26
From 1995 to 1998, published Barclays Law Publishers: KFN7840 .A557

Individual agencies may have their own reporters.

NC OAH website>Hearings Division>ALJ Decisions.
Browse by agency, then by year. No search capability. Years available vary by agency, but none go back further than 2001. Entries include the docket number, case name, and ALJ, and sometimes a link to the fulltext of the decision.

Westlaw (database NC-ADMIN, coverage varies by agency) & Westlaw Next (combination of administrative decisions & guidance)

LexisNexis (combination of administrative decisions & attorney general opinions)

Individual agency websites may have their administrative decisions online

Executive Documents

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 121-6(b) requires the governor to collect a copy of all official releases and papers and deliver them to the Department of Cultural Resources for editing and publication.

Joint project by State Library of NC and NC State Archives to capture NC state government websites since April 2006.

Executive documents can be located on the Governor’s Office website>News and Media.

Executive orders are also required to be published in the NC Register (1984 - present) (KFN7434.A2 N67). The NC Register can also be found electronically through the Office of Administrative Hearings. Older volumes can be found digitized through the library.

Executive orders from 1977-1984 (issued before the creation of the NC Register and NC Administrative Code) can be found in the North Carolina session laws. NC Session laws are available in Hein Online, the Internet Archive, or in print microfiche.

For the past 150 years, intermittently governors’ papers have been published. Typically, they contain correspondence and texts of speeches rather than official documents. Have various titles, such as “Paper of…,” “Public Papers and Letters of…” or “Letter and Papers of…” Since 1933, the publications have more consistently been called “Addresses and Papers of Governor…”

In the library, search catalog or see library stacks around call number J87 .N81…

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