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Social and public policy government publications resources san jose state university

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This handout provides information regarding resources of importance to persons interested in researching social and public policy. Both social and public policy can be effectively researched in government resources. The resources are listed according to the three branches of government – legislative, executive, and judicial. Some resources may be restricted to use by students, faculty and staff of SJSU. The terms, bills and legislation, are used interchangeably in this guide.
The following paragraphs give a brief introduction to “policy”.

This is the most general term, as it can deal with business, society, government, an organization, etc. A policy is an overall plan embracing general goals and acceptable procedures.


This is a more specific term. It deals with issues found in society and can be based on customs, laws, or ideas of various groups. Social policies allocate resources in society-at-large and in local communities as government(s) collectively seeks enduring solutions to the problems that affect them. Such policies frequently cut across the entire society and economy. Social policy is expressed in laws, policies, and practices that affect the social relationships of individuals and their relationship to the society of which they are a part. Some examples of social policy are the 1960’s Great Society goal to eliminate poverty, the 1995 Republican “Contract with America” goal of replacing federal programs with state and private solutions, and the need for a social service “safety net” for all.


This is the most specific term. It is social policy which has been incorporated in an official and legal form of some sort. In the broadest sense, public policy is whatever a government decided to do or not to do, to deal with a particular problem or concern. In a democracy, these official policies are based on the will of the majority. More specifically, public policy is a set of decisions by government concerning the selection of goals and the methods of attaining them, within a specified situation. These may be expressed in a variety of forms including legislation/laws, local ordinances, regulations, executive orders, court decisions, or decisions of administrators. Examples of public policies are affirmative action hiring goals, Medicare, gun control, the clean-up of toxic sites by industry, subsidized day care, and the WIC (women, Infants, and Children) Program.

Social Policy and Government Publications

Laws & Regulations
Bills, Laws of the US

Internet site:

US Code – King 2nd Floor Reference KF62.A1 (Laws by subject)

Internet site:

US Statutes (Laws by chronology) King 2nd Floor Reference KF 50.U5

Internet site:

Code of Federal Regulations - King 2nd Floor Reference KF 70.A3 – the annual accumulation of federal regulations

Internet site:

Federal Register – King 2nd Floor Reference and Lower Level Microform: J 1.A2 – the daily listing of proposed and final regulations

Internet site:

Unified Agenda - Internet site:

Published twice a year, summarizes the rules and proposed rules that each Federal agency expects to issue during the next six months.

Catalog of Government Publications – King 2nd Floor Reference:

J 83.M66x – index to print and electronic publications of federal agencies

Internet site:
Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents 1965 – present (Periodicals J 80.A284)

Internet site:

And Public Papers of the Presidents (accumulation of the Weekly Compilation series) King 7th Floor – J 80A.283 (1929- 1933, 1945- )

Internet site:

(1991 – Present)
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance – King 2nd Floor reference HC 110.P63.U53a

Internet site:

Bills, Laws of California

Statutes of California – King 2nd Floor Reference KFC 25.C3

Internet site:
Bills of California

Internet site:

California Code of Regulations – King 2nd Floor Reference KFC 30.5.W4

Internet site:

Analysis Resources
In California, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) is a non partisan state office that provides position papers on matters of public policy and fiscal issues for state legislature. The office carries out legislative oversight functions by reviewing and analyzing the operations and finances of state government. An example of their research is: Governor’s CalWORKs Reforms: An Assessment
The California Department of Finance

is responsible for making fiscal projections on proposed legislation, develop population estimates and projections, and develop economic forecasts for the state. It is at this site that you will find full text the California Statistical Abstract, County Profiles, Economic Indicators for the state and other data of importance to projecting the economy of the state.

The Council of State Governments

provides research papers on public policy issues that affect each state. On their homepage they link to policy priorities which alert legislators on hot issues and research provided for these issues.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development provides an interactive database called HUD USER that has current information on housing needs, market conditions, and existing programs, as well as conducting research on priority housing and community development issues, etc. One of the many resources on this page is the State of the Cities Data System. In Fast Look major cities, such as San Jose are statistically described with 1998 data.
The US Census Bureau

provides to several new services online: the American Community Survey and the American Fact Finder. Starting in August, 2006, the American Community Survey (ACS) is now providing estimates of demographic, housing, social, and economic characteristics every year for all states, as well as for all cities, counties, metropolitan areas, and populations groups of 65,000 people or more. The ACS has provided sample studies for each state. In California, San Francisco County is given. The American Fact Finder will be taking data from the various Census departments and posting the Census 2000 data at this site. The difference between ACS and Fact Finder is that Fact Finder has a more inclusive, larger statistical database.

The state of Nevada has an excellent example of research reports on social policy issues that affect the state. Their Legislative Council has maintained a full text database of recent reports:

Other important resources:
Rand California – source of position papers on governmental issues. Access to this is from the library’s Articles & Databases page.
Public Policy Institute of California

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) is a private, nonprofit organization that provides independent, objective, nonpartisan research on public policy in California.

Counting California

Counting California’s single interface enables user’s access to public use data compiled by federal, state, and local agencies, and also allows users to collate and integrate data by topic, geography, title, and provider.

California Policy Review

The California Policy Review examines topic relevant for the public policy community in California and is written by authors from universities, think tanks and government agencies. Each issue addresses a single subject by exploring an emerging policy concern, distilling key research findings, or considering the trade-offs among policy options. The California Policy Review is published by the SPHERE Institute and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

CA Researcher
Also consider: Statistical Abstract of the United States

and California Statistical Abstract

2/19/07 developed by Sue Kendall

8/15/07 updated by Susana Liu

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