Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Department of Economic Opportunity

What is the purpose of the department?

The purpose of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is to assist the Governor in working with the Legislature, state agencies, business leaders, and economic development professionals to formulate and implement coherent and consistent policies and strategies designed to promote economic opportunities for all Floridians.

The department also must ensure that the state's goals and policies relating to economic development, workforce development, community planning and development, and affordable housing are fully integrated with appropriate implementation strategies.

What are the responsibilities of the department?

The Department of Economic Opportunity's duties include
  • managing the activities of public-private partnerships and state agencies in order to avoid duplication and promote coordinated and consistent implementation of programs in areas including tourism; international trade and investment; business recruitment, creation, retention, and expansion; minority and small business development; rural community development; commercialization of products, services, or ideas developed in public universities or other public institutions; and the development and promotion of professional and amateur sporting events;
  • developing a statewide five-year strategic plan to address the promotion of business formation, expansion, recruitment, and retention in order to create jobs; and
  • promoting viable, sustainable communities by providing technical assistance and guidance on growth and development issues, grants, and other assistance to local communities.

How is the department organized?

To carry out the agency's mission, the Legislature designated five divisions within the department.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2021-22
Fund Dollars Positions
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY, DEPARTMENT OF
PROGRAM: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
FLORIDA HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION
209,200,000
.00
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
1,155,991,589
150.00
PROGRAM: EXECUTIVE DIRECTION AND SUPPORT SERVICES
EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP
4,451,964
37.00
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
13,498,594
101.00
INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SUPPORT SERVICES
12,205,172
100.00
PROGRAM: STRATEGIC BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGIC BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
256,149,974
22.00
PROGRAM: WORKFORCE SERVICES
CAREERSOURCE FLORIDA
20,612,541
.00
REEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE APPEALS COMMISSION
4,023,432
33.50
REEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
189,895,828
478.00
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
327,747,895
587.50
TOTAL
2,193,776,988
1,509.00

Updates

Department Governance and Operations. Chapter 2021-25, Laws of Florida, modified department governance and operations including
  • changing the title for the head of the department from "Executive Director" to "Secretary of Economic Opportunity;"
  • creating the Office of Economic Accountability and Transparency;
  • adding the secretary or designee to the Enterprise Florida, Inc., and CareerSource Florida, Inc., boards of directors; 
  • revising grant categories and eligibility criteria for the Community Development Block Grant Program; and
  • modernizing the reemployment assistance information system.

Workforce Programs and Services. Chapter 2021-164, Laws of Florida, made changes to workforce development policy including

  • authorizing the Governor to seek federal waivers to create greater flexibility and strategic investment in Florida’s implementation of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA);
  • creating the Office of Reimagining Education and Career Help in the Executive Office of the Governor to provide coordination and alignment in Florida’s workforce development system;
  • creating a “no-wrong-door” entry strategy whereby Floridians may access services from any workforce partner with a common intake form and case management system;
  • creating an online opportunity portal to provide Floridians with access to available state, federal, and local services and evaluative tools to determine short-term employability and long-term self-sufficiency;
  • requiring the Department of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Children and Families to evaluate the impact of workforce services on participants receiving benefits and welfare transition programs, to include performance reports on participant earnings;
  • requiring letter grades for local workforce development boards, which must be made public, based on improvement of participant long-term self-sufficiency and return on investment; and
  • requiring the Department of Economic Opportunity to establish WIOA eligible training provider criteria focused on participant outcomes.

CONNECT System Challenges. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, millions of Floridians were impacted by an unprecedented increase in unemployment. Hundreds of thousands of citizens attempted, without success, to access the Department of Economic Opportunity's CONNECT Reemployment Assistance system. In response to the CONNECT system's failure, Governor DeSantis requested additional resources of the Executive Agencies under his authority to assist DEO staff with processing payments to claimants. Numerous actions were taken by DEO and the Department of Management Services to resolve the CONNECT system's inability to process claims. As of January 29, 2021, DEO has processed and paid 97.8% of the total eligible claims.

On May 4, 2020, at the request of Governor DeSantis, the Office of the Chief Inspector General initiated a review of the CONNECT system and released a draft report on March 4, 2021. 

Reemployment Reforms. The 2021 Legislature enacted Chapter 2021-25, Laws of Florida, which included numerous changes to the reemployment assistance process and system. Among these, the bill 

  • decreases the amount of time employers may respond to a notice of claim filed, from 20 days to 14 days;
  • removes the requirement that appeal hearing officers must be Florida Bar licensed attorneys;
  • prohibits an appeal from being filed five years or more after the determination was delivered;
  • requires DEO to implement an integrated, modular system hosted in a cloud computing service that provides for rapid provisioning of additional data processing when necessary and, among other requirements, must support the efficient distribution of benefits and the effective operation and management of the reemployment assistance program;
  • specifies that DEO must perform an annual review of the system and identify enhancements or modernization efforts that improve the delivery of services to claimants and employers and reporting to state and federal entities;
  • requires DEO to annually submit a Reemployment Assistance Claims and Benefits Information System report to the Governor, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House beginning October 1, 2023; and
  • requires DEO to take actions to modernize the Reemployment Assistance Claims and Benefits Information System for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year as provided in the General Appropriations Act.

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
The Auditor General reports on department operations are available on its website.
Websites of Interest
U. S. Department of Commerce
Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Section 20.60, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Department of Economic Opportunity, 850-245-7105

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