Section 120.57, Florida Statutes 2001
120.57 Additional procedures for particular cases.--
(1) ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES APPLICABLE TO HEARINGS INVOLVING DISPUTED ISSUES OF MATERIAL FACT.--
(a) Except as provided in ss. 120.80 and 120.81, an administrative law judge assigned by the division shall conduct all hearings under this subsection, except for hearings before agency heads or a member thereof. If the administrative law judge assigned to a hearing becomes unavailable, the division shall assign another administrative law judge who shall use any existing record and receive any additional evidence or argument, if any, which the new administrative law judge finds necessary.
(b) All parties shall have an opportunity to respond, to present evidence and argument on all issues involved, to conduct cross-examination and submit rebuttal evidence, to submit proposed findings of facts and orders, to file exceptions to the presiding officer's recommended order, and to be represented by counsel or other qualified representative. When appropriate, the general public may be given an opportunity to present oral or written communications. If the agency proposes to consider such material, then all parties shall be given an opportunity to cross-examine or challenge or rebut the material.
(c) Hearsay evidence may be used for the purpose of supplementing or explaining other evidence, but it shall not be sufficient in itself to support a finding unless it would be admissible over objection in civil actions.
(d) Notwithstanding s. 120.569(2)(g), similar fact evidence of other violations, wrongs, or acts is admissible when relevant to prove a material fact in issue, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident, but it is inadmissible when the evidence is relevant solely to prove bad character or propensity. When the state in an administrative proceeding intends to offer evidence of other acts or offenses under this paragraph, the state shall furnish to the party whose substantial interests are being determined and whose other acts or offenses will be the subject of such evidence, no fewer than 10 days before commencement of the proceeding, a written statement of the acts or offenses it intends to offer, describing them and the evidence the state intends to offer with particularity. Notice is not required for evidence of acts or offenses which is used for impeachment or on rebuttal.
(e)1. Any agency action that determines the substantial interests of a party and that is based on an unadopted rule is subject to de novo review by an administrative law judge.
2. The agency action shall not be presumed valid or invalid. The agency must demonstrate that the unadopted rule:
a. Is within the powers, functions, and duties delegated by the Legislature or, if the agency is operating pursuant to authority derived from the State Constitution, is within that authority;
b. Does not enlarge, modify, or contravene the specific provisions of law implemented;
c. Is not vague, establishes adequate standards for agency decisions, or does not vest unbridled discretion in the agency;
d. Is not arbitrary or capricious;
e. Is not being applied to the substantially affected party without due notice;
f. Is supported by competent and substantial evidence; and
g. Does not impose excessive regulatory costs on the regulated person, county, or city.
3. The recommended and final orders in any proceeding shall be governed by the provisions of paragraphs (k) and (l), except that the administrative law judge's determination regarding the unadopted rule shall not be rejected by the agency unless the agency first determines from a review of the complete record, and states with particularity in the order, that such determination is clearly erroneous or does not comply with essential requirements of law. In any proceeding for review under s. 120.68, if the court finds that the agency's rejection of the determination regarding the unadopted rule does not comport with the provisions of this subparagraph, the agency action shall be set aside and the court shall award to the prevailing party the reasonable costs and a reasonable attorney's fee for the initial proceeding and the proceeding for review.
(f) The record in a case governed by this subsection shall consist only of:
1. All notices, pleadings, motions, and intermediate rulings.
2. Evidence admitted.
3. Those matters officially recognized.
4. Proffers of proof and objections and rulings thereon.
5. Proposed findings and exceptions.
6. Any decision, opinion, order, or report by the presiding officer.
7. All staff memoranda or data submitted to the presiding officer during the hearing or prior to its disposition, after notice of the submission to all parties, except communications by advisory staff as permitted under s. 120.66(1), if such communications are public records.
8. All matters placed on the record after an ex parte communication.
9. The official transcript.
(g) The agency shall accurately and completely preserve all testimony in the proceeding, and, on the request of any party, it shall make a full or partial transcript available at no more than actual cost.
(h) Any party to a proceeding in which an administrative law judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings has final order authority may move for a summary final order when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. A summary final order shall be rendered if the administrative law judge determines from the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, that no genuine issue as to any material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled as a matter of law to the entry of a final order. A summary final order shall consist of findings of fact, if any, conclusions of law, a disposition or penalty, if applicable, and any other information required by law to be contained in the final order.
(i) When, in any proceeding conducted pursuant to this subsection, a dispute of material fact no longer exists, any party may move the administrative law judge to relinquish jurisdiction to the agency. In ruling on such a motion, the administrative law judge may consider the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with supporting and opposing affidavits, if any. If the administrative law judge enters an order relinquishing jurisdiction, the agency may promptly conduct a proceeding pursuant to subsection (2), if appropriate, but the parties may not raise any issues of disputed fact that could have been raised before the administrative law judge. An order entered by an administrative law judge relinquishing jurisdiction to the agency based upon a determination that no genuine dispute of material fact exists, need not contain findings of fact, conclusions of law, or a recommended disposition or penalty.
(j) Findings of fact shall be based upon a preponderance of the evidence, except in penal or licensure disciplinary proceedings or except as otherwise provided by statute, and shall be based exclusively on the evidence of record and on matters officially recognized.
(k) The presiding officer shall complete and submit to the agency and all parties a recommended order consisting of findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended disposition or penalty, if applicable, and any other information required by law to be contained in the final order. All proceedings conducted pursuant to this subsection shall be de novo. The agency shall allow each party 15 days in which to submit written exceptions to the recommended order.
(l) The agency may adopt the recommended order as the final order of the agency. The agency in its final order may reject or modify the conclusions of law over which it has substantive jurisdiction and interpretation of administrative rules over which it has substantive jurisdiction. When rejecting or modifying such conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule, the agency must state with particularity its reasons for rejecting or modifying such conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule and must make a finding that its substituted conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule is as or more reasonable than that which was rejected or modified. Rejection or modification of conclusions of law may not form the basis for rejection or modification of findings of fact. The agency may not reject or modify the findings of fact unless the agency first determines from a review of the entire record, and states with particularity in the order, that the findings of fact were not based upon competent substantial evidence or that the proceedings on which the findings were based did not comply with essential requirements of law. The agency may accept the recommended penalty in a recommended order, but may not reduce or increase it without a review of the complete record and without stating with particularity its reasons therefor in the order, by citing to the record in justifying the action.
(m) If a recommended order is submitted to an agency, the agency shall provide a copy of its final order to the division within 15 days after the order is filed with the agency clerk.
(n) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, when statutes or rules impose conflicting time requirements for the scheduling of expedited hearings or issuance of recommended or final orders, the director of the division shall have the authority to set the proceedings for the orderly operation of this chapter.
(2) ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES APPLICABLE TO HEARINGS NOT INVOLVING DISPUTED ISSUES OF MATERIAL FACT.--In any case to which subsection (1) does not apply:
(a) The agency shall:
1. Give reasonable notice to affected persons of the action of the agency, whether proposed or already taken, or of its decision to refuse action, together with a summary of the factual, legal, and policy grounds therefor.
2. Give parties or their counsel the option, at a convenient time and place, to present to the agency or hearing officer written or oral evidence in opposition to the action of the agency or to its refusal to act, or a written statement challenging the grounds upon which the agency has chosen to justify its action or inaction.
3. If the objections of the parties are overruled, provide a written explanation within 7 days.
(b) The record shall only consist of:
1. The notice and summary of grounds.
2. Evidence received.
3. All written statements submitted.
4. Any decision overruling objections.
5. All matters placed on the record after an ex parte communication.
6. The official transcript.
7. Any decision, opinion, order, or report by the presiding officer.
(3) ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES APPLICABLE TO PROTESTS TO CONTRACT BIDDING OR AWARD.--Agencies subject to this chapter shall utilize the uniform rules of procedure, which provide procedures for the resolution of protests arising from the contract bidding process. Such rules shall at least provide that:
(a) The agency shall provide notice of its decision or intended decision concerning a bid solicitation or a contract award as follows:
1. For a bid solicitation, notice of a decision or intended decision shall be given by United States mail or by hand delivery.
2. For any decision of the Department of Management Services concerning a request by an agency for approval of an exceptional purchase under part I of chapter 287 and the rules of the Department of Management Services, notice of a decision or intended decision shall be given by posting such notice in the office of the Department of Management Services.
3. For any other agency decision, notice of a decision or intended decision shall be given either by posting the bid tabulation at the location where the bids were opened or by certified United States mail or other express delivery service, return receipt requested.
The notice required by this paragraph shall contain the following statement: "Failure to file a protest within the time prescribed in s. 120.57(3), Florida Statutes, shall constitute a waiver of proceedings under chapter 120, Florida Statutes."
(b) Any person who is adversely affected by the agency decision or intended decision shall file with the agency a notice of protest in writing within 72 hours after the posting of the bid tabulation or after receipt of the notice of the agency decision or intended decision and shall file a formal written protest within 10 days after filing the notice of protest. With respect to a protest of the specifications contained in an invitation to bid or in a request for proposals, the notice of protest shall be filed in writing within 72 hours after the receipt of notice of the project plans and specifications or intended project plans and specifications in an invitation to bid or request for proposals, and the formal written protest shall be filed within 10 days after the date the notice of protest is filed. Failure to file a notice of protest or failure to file a formal written protest shall constitute a waiver of proceedings under this chapter. The formal written protest shall state with particularity the facts and law upon which the protest is based. Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays shall be excluded in the computation of the 72-hour time periods provided by this paragraph.
(c) Upon receipt of the formal written protest which has been timely filed, the agency shall stop the bid solicitation process or the contract award process until the subject of the protest is resolved by final agency action, unless the agency head sets forth in writing particular facts and circumstances which require the continuance of the bid solicitation process or the contract award process without delay in order to avoid an immediate and serious danger to the public health, safety, or welfare.
(d)1. The agency shall provide an opportunity to resolve the protest by mutual agreement between the parties within 7 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after receipt of a formal written protest.
2. If the subject of a protest is not resolved by mutual agreement within 7 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after receipt of the formal written protest, and if there is no disputed issue of material fact, an informal proceeding shall be conducted pursuant to subsection (2) and applicable agency rules before a person whose qualifications have been prescribed by rules of the agency.
3. If the subject of a protest is not resolved by mutual agreement within 7 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after receipt of the formal written protest, and if there is a disputed issue of material fact, the agency shall refer the protest to the division for proceedings under subsection (1).
(e) Upon receipt of a formal written protest referred pursuant to this subsection, the director of the division shall expedite the hearing and assign an administrative law judge who shall commence a hearing within 30 days after the receipt of the formal written protest by the division and enter a recommended order within 30 days after the hearing or within 30 days after receipt of the hearing transcript by the administrative law judge, whichever is later. Each party shall be allowed 10 days in which to submit written exceptions to the recommended order. A final order shall be entered by the agency within 30 days of the entry of a recommended order. The provisions of this paragraph may be waived upon stipulation by all parties.
(f) In a competitive-procurement protest, no submissions made after the bid or proposal opening amending or supplementing the bid or proposal shall be considered. Unless otherwise provided by statute, the burden of proof shall rest with the party protesting the proposed agency action. In a competitive-procurement protest, other than a rejection of all bids, the administrative law judge shall conduct a de novo proceeding to determine whether the agency's proposed action is contrary to the agency's governing statutes, the agency's rules or policies, or the bid or proposal specifications. The standard of proof for such proceedings shall be whether the proposed agency action was clearly erroneous, contrary to competition, arbitrary, or capricious. In any bid-protest proceeding contesting an intended agency action to reject all bids, the standard of review by an administrative law judge shall be whether the agency's intended action is illegal, arbitrary, dishonest, or fraudulent.
(4) INFORMAL DISPOSITION.--Unless precluded by law, informal disposition may be made of any proceeding by stipulation, agreed settlement, or consent order.
(5) APPLICABILITY.--This section does not apply to agency investigations preliminary to agency action.
History.--s. 1, ch. 74-310; s. 7, ch. 75-191; s. 8, ch. 76-131; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 5, ch. 77-453; ss. 6, 11, ch. 78-95; s. 6, ch. 78-425; s. 8, ch. 79-7; s. 7, ch. 80-95; s. 4, ch. 80-289; s. 57, ch. 81-259; s. 2, ch. 83-78; s. 9, ch. 83-216; s. 2, ch. 84-173; s. 4, ch. 84-203; ss. 1, 2, ch. 86-108; s. 44, ch. 87-6; ss. 1, 2, ch. 87-54; s. 5, ch. 87-385; s. 1, ch. 90-283; s. 4, ch. 91-30; s. 1, ch. 91-191; s. 22, ch. 92-315; s. 7, ch. 94-218; s. 1420, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 95-328; s. 19, ch. 96-159; s. 1, ch. 96-423; s. 8, ch. 97-176; s. 5, ch. 98-200; s. 3, ch. 98-279; s. 47, ch. 99-2; s. 6, ch. 99-379.