OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Department of Management Services

Division of Administrative Hearings

What is the purpose of the division?

The purpose of the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) is to 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 administers two programs:  the Adjudication of Disputes program and the Workers' Compensation Appeals program.

The Adjudication of Disputes program employs 65 positions as of June 30, 2019. These include the director and chief judge, the deputy chief judge, and 31 administrative law judges, with one administrative secretary or administrative assistant assigned to three judges. These judges oversee the hearing and resolution of challenges to state agency rules, proceedings in which the substantial interests of a party are determined by a state agency and hearing involving disputed issues of material fact between private citizens and state entities and private organizations and state entities.

The Workers' Compensation Appeals program employs 175 positions.  Judges mediate and adjudicate disputed workers' compensation benefits.

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;
  • 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 encompass a variety of issues, and involve multiple state agencies.  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.
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?

During Fiscal Year 2018-19, state agencies and other governmental entities referred 7,105 requests for assignment of an administrative law judge, compared to 6,393 requires filed the previous year. This is an 11% increase from the previous fiscal year.

Of these cases, 2,152 were Baker Act cases. During Fiscal Year 2018-19, each administrative law judge conducted an average of 204 hearings, writing an average of 94 recommended or final orders.  Each administrative judge closed an average of 54 cases (excluding Baker Act cases). During this same period, DOAH judges held a total of 4,966.25 hearing hours.

Timeliness of division operations can be impacted by failure of agency final orders with the division.  In Fiscal Year 2018-19, 13 out of 33 agencies (43%) complied with the requirement to file agency final orders with the division within 15 days after the order is filed with the agency clerk.

How are these activities funded?

The Division is 100 percent trust funded. 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%.  
Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Dollars Positions
ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
PROGRAM: ADJUDICATION OF DISPUTES
8,757,140
65.00
PROGRAM: WORKERS' COMPENSATION APPEALS - JUDGES OF COMPENSATION CLAIMS
18,621,814
175.00
TOTAL
27,378,954
240.00

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?

Other Reports
Division of Administrative Hearings, annual reports
Websites of Interest
Division of Administrative Hearings Case Search
Division of Administrative Hearings Recent Decisions
The Florida Bar Journal
Performance Information


Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapters 120 (Adjudication of Disputes Program) and 440, (Workers' Compensation Appeals Program), Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Division of Administrative Hearings Clerk's Office, 850-488-9675 email:  AskDOAH@doah.state.fl.us

Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims Clerk's Office and Workers' Compensation-related inquiries, email:  AskOJCC@doah.state.fl.us

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