What is the purpose of the division?
The purpose of the Division of Administrative Hearings
(DOAH) is to impartially adjudicate disputes, and provide a uniform and impartial forum for the trial and resolution of disputes between private citizens and organizations and agencies of the state in an efficient and timely manner. In addition, the division maintains a statewide mediation and adjudication system for the efficient and timely resolution of disputed workers' compensation claims.
How is the division organized?
The division is headed by a division director
who serves as the chief administrative law judge and is appointed by the Administration Commission
(Governor and Cabinet) and confirmed by the Florida Senate
The division is administratively housed in the Department of Management Services, but is not subject to the control, supervision, or direction of the department. The division's headquarters are in Tallahassee.
The division has two units, the Adjudication of Disputes Program and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Program.
- The Adjudication of Administrative Disputes Program employs administrative law judges, including the chief judge and a deputy chief judge, who travel throughout the state conducting administrative hearings.Administrative judges also have the option of conducting hearings lasting four hours or less via videoconferencing technology at the request of both parties.
- The Adjudication of Workers' Compensation Disputes Program employs a deputy chief judge who heads the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims and reports to the division director. Judges are located in 17 district offices.
How are cases referred to the division?
An administrative proceeding is initiated when an agency action or inaction adversely affects a private party's substantial interests. The agency is almost always a party to the proceedings. Cases often come to administrative law judges after an administrative hearing before agency staff or an agency head.
Cases come to judges of compensation claims after parties are unable to reach agreement on outstanding issues and one party files a petition for benefits
. The law provides for mandatory mediation
within 130 days of filing such a petition.
What cases do judges hear?
Administrative law judges conduct hearings as authorized by Ch. 120
, Florida Statutes
. Most cases are brought
- to challenge an agency rule as an invalid delegation of legislative authority; or
- to resolve disputes between an agency and a person whose substantial interests will be affected by an agency decision (other than a rule). State law does not define the term substantial; it is interpreted on a case-by-case basis.
Division cases involve a very broad range of issues including taxation, elections, air pollution, child support, and business regulation. The division conducts other hearings as set out in law, such as cases brought under the Baker Act
(involuntary commitment to a mental institution). Judges of compensation claims hear disputes brought under the many varied provisions of the state's workers' compensation law, Ch. 440
, Florida Statutes
What rulings do judges issue?
Administrative law judges issue either final orders or recommended orders.
- Final orders are issued in rule challenges, reviews of agencies' declaratory statements, Baker Act cases, appropriate education for exceptional students cases, voluntary medical malpractice arbitration, Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association cases, and other cases.
- Recommended orders contain an administrative law judge's official recommendations. The head of the involved agency may accept, modify, or reject the recommended order. However, an administrative law judge's findings of fact in a recommended order are considered conclusive unless the findings do not comply with essential requirements of law or are not supported by competent substantial evidence. Orders by administrative law judges may be appealed to Florida's First District Court of Appeal or the district court of appeal where a party resides, or as otherwise provided by law.
Judges of compensation claims issue final disposition orders (merit, lump sum settlement, and stipulation orders) and procedural orders. Orders of the judges of compensation claims may be appealed
to the Florida First District Court of Appeals.
How quickly does the division resolve cases?
In Fiscal Year 2017-18, state agencies and other governmental offices referred a total of 6,393 requests for an administrative law judge. This represents a 16% decrease from Fiscal Year 2016-17 (7,691 cases). Of these cases, 1,737 were Baker Act cases. During Fiscal Year 2017-18, each administrative law judge conducted an average of 197 hearings, writing an average of 94 recommended or final Orders. Each administrative judge closed an average of 52 cases (excluding Baker Act cases). During this same period, DOAH judges held a total of 5,284.50 hearing hours.
The Division makes every effort to deliver decisions in a timely manner. In Fiscal Year 2017-18, 11 out of 33 agencies complied with the 15-day filing requirement. In Fiscal Year 2017-18, agencies filed 38% of cases within the 15-day requirement.
Total expenditures for the division in Fiscal Year 2017-18 reached $26,118,320.
How are these activities funded?
The division's primary source of funding is fee assessments to state agencies and other entities as specified in budgetary proviso
, but the division also receives payments for contractual services provided to cities and counties. Some state entities must pay filing fees
or other fees
to utilize the division's hearing services.
These funds are derived from assessments paid by insurance carriers writing workers' compensation insurance and self-insurers into the Workers' Compensation Administration Trust Fund
. The assessment may not exceed 2.75% of net premiums collected
. The assessment rate for calendar year 2019 is 0.90%
Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?
A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website
Where can I get more information?
What are the applicable statutes?
(Adjudication of Disputes Program) and 440
, (Workers' Compensation Appeals Program), Florida Statutes
Whom do I contact for help?