(1) The Division of Administrative Hearings within the Department of Management Services shall be headed by a director who shall be appointed by the Administration Commission and confirmed by the Senate. The director, who shall also serve as the chief administrative law judge, and any deputy chief administrative law judge must possess the same minimum qualifications as the administrative law judges employed by the division. The Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims must possess the minimum qualifications established in s. 440.45(2) and shall report to the director. The division shall be a separate budget entity, and the director shall be its agency head for all purposes. The Department of Management Services shall provide administrative support and service to the division to the extent requested by the director. The division shall not be subject to control, supervision, or direction by the Department of Management Services in any manner, including, but not limited to, personnel, purchasing, transactions involving real or personal property, and budgetary matters.
(2) The director has the right to appeal actions by the Executive Office of the Governor that affect amendments to the division’s approved operating budget or any personnel actions pursuant to chapter 216 to the Administration Commission, which shall decide such issue by majority vote. The appropriations committees may advise the Administration Commission on the issue. If the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives object in writing to the effects of the appeal, the appeal may be affirmed by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the commission members present.
(3) Each state agency as defined in chapter 216 and each political subdivision shall make its facilities available, at a time convenient to the provider, for use by the division in conducting proceedings pursuant to this chapter.
(4) The division shall employ administrative law judges to conduct hearings required by this chapter or other law. Any person employed by the division as an administrative law judge must have been a member of The Florida Bar in good standing for the preceding 5 years.
(5) If the division cannot furnish a division administrative law judge promptly in response to an agency request, the director shall designate in writing a qualified full-time employee of an agency other than the requesting agency to conduct the hearing. The director shall have the discretion to designate such a hearing officer who is located in that part of the state where the parties and witnesses reside.
(6) By rule, the division may establish:
(a) Further qualifications for administrative law judges and shall establish procedures by which candidates will be considered for employment or contract.
(b) The manner in which public notice will be given of vacancies in the staff of administrative law judges.
(c) Procedures for the assignment of administrative law judges.
(7) The division is authorized to provide administrative law judges on a contract basis to any governmental entity to conduct any hearing not covered by this section.
(8) The division shall have the authority to adopt reasonable rules to carry out the provisions of this act.
(9) Rules promulgated by the division may authorize any reasonable sanctions except contempt for violation of the rules of the division or failure to comply with a reasonable order issued by an administrative law judge, which is not under judicial review.
(10) Not later than February 1 of each year, the division shall issue a written report to the Administrative Procedures Committee and the Administration Commission, including at least the following information:
(a) A summary of the extent and effect of agencies’ utilization of administrative law judges, court reporters, and other personnel in proceedings under this chapter.
(b) Recommendations for change or improvement in the Administrative Procedure Act or any agency’s practice or policy with respect thereto.
(c) Recommendations as to those types of cases or disputes which should be conducted under the summary hearing process described in s. 120.574. (d) A report regarding each agency’s compliance with the filing requirement in s. 120.57(1)(m).
(11) The division shall be reimbursed for administrative law judge services and travel expenses by the following entities: water management districts, regional planning councils, school districts, community colleges, the Division of Florida Colleges, state universities, the Board of Governors of the State University System, the State Board of Education, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, and the Commission for Independent Education. These entities shall contract with the division to establish a contract rate for services and provisions for reimbursement of administrative law judge travel expenses and video teleconferencing expenses attributable to hearings conducted on behalf of these entities. The contract rate must be based on a total-cost-recovery methodology.