Did you know the Federal Government is one of the largest publishers in the world? In addition to website content, federal agencies also produce e-books, print books and other publications as needed for the American people. For electronic versions, many federal agencies have printer-friendly PDF versions of publications on their own websites while others only offer online versions with web pages displaying their digital content. Still others go the extra step to produce actual eBooks that can be read on your e-reader devices and eBook reader apps for mobile and desktop, like Amazon Kindle, Google Play Books, Kobo, Nook, and libraries’ favorite OverDrive Media Console, to name a few. Some even offer digital magazines through apps like Zinio.
In addition to combing individual federal agency websites for their publications, you can also search these federal online bookstore sites, which contain print editions as well:
- The U.S. Government Bookstore is the main electronic bookstore of the U.S. Federal Government. Operated by the Government Publishing Office (GPO), it offers official publications for consumers, industry, government, science and academia, and shipping is free anywhere in the world. It covers every topic you can imagine, and some you can’t, including business topics like Business & Finance, Health & Benefits, Laws & Regulations, Science & Technology and Transportation & Navigation. Browse all the GPO Bookstore categories and subcategories here.
- Publications.USA.gov – Some of us may remember the commercials for public service announcements that said at the end to write to “Pueblo, Colorado.” This is the new website for the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) operated by the U.S. General Services Administration. While most of the publications on its site are digital pamphlets for consumers/ citizens, it also has a section of publications for Small business publications. It has some print publications that can be ordered and shipped for free to U.S. addresses.
Best Federal Publications for Business
For many sectors of American industry, federal publications are useful and even vital. Here are some of our recommended business titles by category:
Starting or Running a Business Publications
These free publications can help you in starting and managing your small business.
Workplace Health, Safety & Environmental Compliance Publications
These publications will help you keep yourself, your employees, and your community safe and healthy—while you stay in compliance with federal regulations.
If data drives decisions, then nothing helps more than having official data in the form of U.S. government statistics. These publications keep a finger on the pulse of American business.
- The Survey of Current Business is a monthly publication from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) which serves as BEA’s definitive source of information about its economic accounts including articles that discuss on-going innovations and present the latest national, international, regional, and industry estimates. It is widely used by macroeconomists and financial analysts to understand the state of the US economy. Explore the Survey of Current Business online.
- The Survey of Business Owners is a survey done every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau with data presented by industry, revenue size, number of employees, geography and demographics. Find the SBO data online here.
Business Finance Publications (Audits and Taxes)
Whether you need to determine taxes, or prepare for business audits, these federal publications are a must-read for your business’ fiscal health.
- Auditing Standards: The Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, also known as the GAGAS or cumulatively as the Yellow Book, provide a framework for conducting high quality audits with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence. The Yellow Book is for use by auditors of government entities, entities that receive government awards, and other audit organizations performing Yellow Book audits. The Yellow Book is available via PDF, Accessible HTML text, as an ePub eBook and as a Print Book from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
- Affordable Care Act Healthcare Tax Form Compliance: As of Tax Year 2015, businesses large and small are required to submit a special form to each employee within their organization who is covered by their company health insurance plan that the employee must submit with their federal tax return. Read IRS Publication 17 Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals via free eBook here or order print copies from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
- Small Business Finance pamphlets are available on the FCIC bookstore site, including an online version and free PDF booklet on Minding Your Own Business: Banking Tips for Small Companies
- Small Business Tax Forms and Publications section of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website brings together the most popular small business and self-employed forms and publications from the IRS, including links to order multiple printed copies.
- Self-Employed Tax Publications: Are you your own boss and considered self-employed? Find the tax publications you need at the IRS Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center.
- Partnerships Tax Publications: Whether you’re in a general or limited partnership, you can find IRS Tax Information for Partnerships here.
- Corporations Tax Publications: U.S. corporations should visit the IRS Tax Information for Corporations page for tax publications for all forms of corporations.
- International Businesses Tax Publications: If you are an international business required to file U.S. taxes, visit the IRS Tax Information for International Businesses page for relevant tax publications.
General Federal Regulations for Business
Do you need to stay abreast of changes in federal regulations or determine the regulations governing your business or industry? What Supreme Court decisions affect your business? These publications help you keep up with proposed changes, current regulations and court decisions.
- Federal Register- Proposed Changes to Federal Regulations: Published daily on non-federal holidays by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Federal Register is the official daily journal of the federal government of the United States and announces all changes to government agency rules, proposed rules, public notices, and some Presidential documents. The final rules published here are ultimately reorganized by topic or subject matter and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is updated annually. Explore the Federal Register online by topic such as Business & Industry, by date, or by type of announcement. You can also subscribe to the Federal Register Complete (Complete Paper Subscription Service, With Indexes) on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
- Official Code of Federal Regulations: The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is an annual publication of the official and complete text of final federal agency regulations published in the Federal Register in one organized publication. You can browse it online or order annual subscriptions in Print, Microfiche, or Electronic Data Feed.
- Supreme Court Decisions in Slip Opinions: When the Supreme Court announces a decision, it immediately releases a bench opinion. A few days later, the Court prints the slip opinion, which is the second and final version and may include corrections not found in the original bench opinion. Many of these decisions have direct bearing on business such as: 1) Slip Opinion 14-86, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores about avoiding religious discrimination in hiring practices and policies such as prohibition of headscarves; 2) Slip Opinion 13-720, Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC which reaffirmed the barring of royalties on a patent after the patent term expires; and 3) Slip Opinion 12-1226, Young V. United Parcel Service, Inc. about accommodation of pregnant employees. Find downloadable PDF versions of the Slip Opinions by year (Term) on the Supreme Court website or buy printed versions from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
Government Contracting Publications
Are you currently selling to the federal government or are a small business that wants to? These contracting publications are for you.
- Federal Acquisition Regulation System – Known as “the FAR”, this is the body of laws and regulations governing purchasing of goods and services by the U.S. federal government, affecting both the government and entities that sell to the government. You can view the FAR online or download the entire FAR via PDF on www.Acquisition.gov, as well as subscribe to print version on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
- Selling to the Government pamphlets on the FCIC bookstore are for small businesses who wish to sell to the federal government, including Doing Business with GSA: Quick Guide 2013.
- U.S. Government Manual– Companies wanting to sell to the federal government should consult The United States Government Manual to familiarize themselves with the agencies and programs they might be serving. This is the official handbook of the Federal Government and provides comprehensive and authoritative descriptions of all the programs and activities of all three branches of the Federal Government: legislative, judicial, and executive. The Government Manual also includes information about quasi-official agencies, international organizations with U.S. membership, and Federal boards, commissions, and committees.
Intellectual Property Publications (Copyrights, Trademarks & Patents)
Protecting your IP- whether it’s an invention or patent, a work of art or writing, or a trademark—is made easier with these useful federal publications.
Import/ Export and International Business Publications
Whether you are importing goods into the United States, exporting to markets outside of the U.S., or just doing business abroad, these federal publications will prove invaluable to your success.
- A Basic Guide to Exporting is the seminal publication for beginning exporters in the United States. You can download the latest 11th edition from the U.S. Department of Commerce on this page in PDF form for reading or printing, or read it online by exploring the chapters linked down the left side of the page. This newest 2015 edition even includes a chapter called Going Online: E-Exporting on using ecommerce to sell to overseas customers online.
- Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business (ePub eBook) and Print takes the mystery out of exporting by analyzing opportunities in country markets where the U.S. government has negotiated preferential access for U.S. companies. The International Trade Administration book provides detailed information on best prospects, insights on the economic and political situation, tips on business culture, free and low-cost assistance for entering each market.
- Exporters! The Wit and Wisdom of Small Business Owners Who Sell Globally (ePub eBook) and Print by the International Trade Administration profiles 25 American small business owners who battled competitors, fear of the unknown, and personal adversity to build successful small businesses in the global marketplace.
- CIA World Factbook: If you do business anywhere in the world, you should consult the CIA World Factbook. Coordinated throughout the US Intelligence Community, this online publication marshals facts on every country, dependency, and geographic entity in the world. It even includes a Guide to Country Comparisons, including communications factors like Internet users and economic factors like GDP, unemployment rate, imports and more—very valuable information for U.S. firms looking to do business in a specific country. A printed version done every two years is also available on the U.S. Government Bookstore.
- Export Administration Regulations, commonly referred to as the EAR (E-A-R), are maintained by the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Standards or BIS. The EAR regulate the export and re-export of commercial commodities and technology, as well as less sensitive military items. These EAR regulations provide the rules and regulations that a company or small business needs to use to determine whether items and activities are subject to the EAR and are in compliance for US Export/ Import transactions. The official version published via the Federal Register is available as an annual print subscription service with a basic edition and quarterly updates via the U.S. Government Bookstore with the 2016 edition available for Pre-Order. The unofficial version can be viewed online at the BIS website via Downloadable Files or by Searching the EAR.
- Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSA): Published by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) and updated semi-annually, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is the primary resource for determining applicable tariff classifications for goods imported into the United States. It can also be used in place of Schedule B for classifying goods exported from the United States to foreign countries. It is based on the international Harmonized System, the global system of nomenclature that is used to describe most world trade in goods. A print subscription can be ordered from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
- FCPA: A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: If you do business abroad, this guide if for you. This is the Department of Justice's and Securities and Exchange Commission's detailed compilation of information about the FCPA, its provisions, and enforcement for all sized U.S. businesses– from small businesses doing their first transactions abroad to multi-national corporations with subsidiaries around the world. The Guide addresses a wide variety of topics, including who and what is covered by the FCPA's anti-bribery and accounting provisions; the definition of a "foreign official"; what constitute proper and improper gifts, travel and entertainment expenses; the nature of facilitating payments; and more. A free pdf version of the Guide is available here or you can order a print version from the U.S. Government bookstore here.
Agriculture / Forestry / Food Industry Publications
Are you a farmer or rancher and want to improve the profits and marketability of your products or land? These publications may be of use to you.
- Running a Food Hub: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a food hub as “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.” These two books share lessons learned and provide detailed operations guidance for running a food hub: The USDA's Running a Food Hub series, Vol 1 Lessons Learned from the Field and Vol 2: A Food Hub Business Operations Guide (Free Electronic PDF) and Print Book.
- Agroforestry: Profitable Farms and Woodlands: A Practical Guide in Agroforestry for Landowners, Farmers, and Ranchers is handbook published by the U.S. Forest Service that depicts step-by-step methods and principles on developing agroforestry practices for farmers and woodland owners for the purpose of enhancing the economic and environmental benefits of their farms and woodlands. It is available for free PDF download as well as an EPUB eBook.
- Find more federal publications on Agriculture & Farming and Trees & Forests on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
Construction/ Real Estate Industry Publications
Builders, realtors, mortgage industry professionals, and small business owners renovating their premises will want to view this list of handy publications.
- The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right - This booklet provides steps renovators must, by law, follow when painting, repairing or renovating homes or buildings—including child care facilities— built before 1978 that may contain lead-based paint. Download the free PDF or order packages of 10 print copies from the U.S. Government Bookstore.
- Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right, EPA's Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program- This booklet is designed for contractors, property managers and maintenance personnel working in homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. This handbook summarizes requirements of EPA's 2008 Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Rule (as amended in 2010 and 2011), aimed at protecting against lead-based paint hazards associated with renovation, repair and painting activities. Download the free PDF or order a print copy from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
- Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and Bridges on Federal Highway Projects – This is the definitive guide for all businesses and government personnel involved in constructing roads and bridges on official federal projects. This book outlines the contractual process, including bids, Scope of Work for projects, including materials, construction requirements, equipment, glossary of terms, and much more. Available via download in PDF or Word format as well as in Print from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore
- Historic Buildings Preservation- The Preservation Briefs provide guidance on preserving, rehabilitating, and restoring historic buildings. These National Park Service (NPS) Technical Preservation Services Publications help historic building owners recognize and resolve common problems prior to work. The briefs are especially useful to Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program applicants because they recommend methods and approaches for rehabilitating historic buildings that are consistent with their historic character. Available for online reading or via downloadable PDF (on each individual brief page) or search the NPS Technical Preservation Services Printed Publications to order hard copies.
- Mortgage Industry Regulatory Implementation- The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has assembled a number of downloadable PDFs for the mortgage industry to comply with new financial regulations, from Dodd-Frank to Electronic Fund Transfers to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). Find links to the various pages of downloadable mortgage industry PDFs here.
- “Know Before You Owe” Real Estate Professional’s Guide to mortgages- The CFPB has produced this online guide for realtors to ensure smooth and on-time closings by educating them about the new mortgage disclosures and home-buying process. Includes links to “Your Home Loan Toolkit: A Step-by-step Guide” and online interactive guides including the home Loan Estimate Explainer and the Closing Disclosure Explainer.
Energy Industry & Climate Change Publications
Are you in an industry affected by energy markets or changing climate? You’ll get charged up by reading these federal publications.