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Office of the Ombudsman and Public Services Quick Links

The Office of the Ombudsman and Public Services facilitates open communication with the public by acting as a liaison to the agency’s programs. The Office is the Department’s public gateway for locating information, answering questions, processing records requests, reporting problems and corresponding with leadership. You may contact the Office of the Ombudsman & Public Services at the address below.

Department of Environmental Protection
Office of the Ombudsman & Public Services
3900 Commonwealth Blvd., MS 49
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Email: public.services@dep.state.fl.us
(850) 245-2118 (phone)
(850) 245-2128 (fax)

Frequently Asked Questions & Information

  1. What is Open Government?
  2. What is a public record?
  3. Will I have to pay for public records?
  4. How can I request public records at the lowest possible cost?
  5. How long does it take to fulfill a public records request?
  6. In what format will public records be provided?
  7. What information is available online?
  8. How can I submit a public records request?
  9. How may I arrange to review public records at a Department office?
  10. How do I contact the District Offices?

 

  1. What is open government?

    Florida began its tradition of openness back in 1909 with the passage of Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes or the “Public Records Law.” This law provides that any records made or received by any public agency in the course of its official business are available for inspection, unless specifically exempted by the Florida Legislature. Over the years, the definition of what constitutes “public records” has come to include not just traditional written documents such as papers, maps and books, but also tapes, photographs, film, sound recordings and records stored in computers.

    Florida expanded this access in 1967 with passage of the Government-in-the-Sunshine Law. This law establishes a basic right of access to most meetings of boards, commissions and other governing bodies of state and local governmental agencies or authorities.

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  2. What is a public record?

    The Florida Supreme Court has determined that public records are all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. Written documents, tapes, photographs, films and sound recordings are all considered public records subject to inspection unless a statutory exemption exists. For more information, see Chapter 119.07, Florida Statutes.

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  3. Will I have to pay for public records?

    Many records are provided at no cost to the requestor.

    Charges may be assessed for use of labor, systems, material, supplies and other resources used to provide access to, and copies of, public records. Departmental policy engages charges when staff are required to spend more than 30 minutes (continuous or cumulative) on activities related to fulfilling a records request; when systems are engaged outside their normal operations; when administrative supplies (paper, toner, CDs, DVDs, postage, etc.) are used; or, any other quantifiable state resources are expended for the sole purpose of fulfilling the request.

    When charges are likely the person requesting records will be advised and, when possible, given an estimate of costs. In some cases a deposit may be required before research into the request begins. Records may not be released until any charges are paid in full.

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  4. How can I request public records at the lowest possible cost?

    When it takes less than 30 minutes of staff time and no significant resources are expended there is no charge for providing records.

    When making a request you may keep costs down by being specific about exactly what records you want, the time frame you want and any qualifying details. This will be very helpful in ensuring that the search we conduct, and the records you receive, best meet your needs at the lowest cost to both you and the Department.

    We often work with requestors to help narrow searches that seem overly broad in scope. Feel free to contact us if we can assist you with refining your request.

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  5. How long does it take to fulfill a public records request?

    Florida law states that an agency must respond within a “limited reasonable time.” This is the time it takes to review the request, search, retrieve and process records for release. Some requests may only take a few minutes while others may take weeks. The length of time it takes largely depends on activity, volume and scope but we are committed to providing requested records as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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  6. In what format will public records be provided?

    The Sunshine Law provides the right to access, inspect, and copy existing public records in the format that they are used by the agency where they are stored. Agencies are not required to re-format data, create new records or write new reports to accommodate a request for information.

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  7. What information is available online?

    Records and information may be readily available at no cost via one of DEP’s online resources.

    The following web pages provide some of the most commonly sought public records:

    • The Business Portal. The public may log in to this database which provides information of licenses, registrations, certifications and other official filings.
    • The statistical abstract provides general information on the Department’s budget and employees.
    • The Quick Reference Guide provides easy links to the Department’s programs
    • The acronym listing can help decipher references

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  8. How can I submit a public records request?

    Submitting a public records request is easy. You may do so by regular mail, e-mail, fax telephone, or in person. If you know the program or district office where the records are located, you may send your request directly there. Use this link for contact information for the program offices. District contacts are listed below.

    If you are unsure where the records are located, you may send your request to:
    Department of Environmental Protection
    Office of the Ombudsman & Public Services
    Attn: Public Records
    3900 Commonwealth Blvd, Mail Slot 49
    Tallahassee, FL 32399

    Email: ombudsman@dep.state.fl.us
    Phone: 850-245-2118
    Fax: 850-245-2128

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  9. How may I arrange to review public records at a Department office?

    If you have determined that the records you are requesting are located at a particular DEP office and you would like to review them in person, please contact the appropriate custodian of public records. The custodian will schedule a time and place during normal business hours for you to review the records. Note that there may be proctoring charges associated with reviewing original records.

    Use this link for contact information for the program offices. District contacts are listed below.

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  10. How do I contact the District Offices?

    Districts contact information is listed below

    Northwest District:
    Brandy Smith (Brandy.M.Smith@dep.state.fl.us)
    160 Governmental Center
    Pensacola, Florida 32502
    (850) 595-0695
    Counties: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton & Washington

    Northeast District:
    Russell Simpson (Russell.Simpson@dep.state.fl.us)
    7777 Baymeadows Way, Suite 100
    Jacksonville, FL 32256
    (904) 256-1653
    Counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor & Union

    Southwest District:
    Ana Gibbs (Ana.Gibbs@dep.state.fl.us)
    13051 N Telecom Parkway
    Temple Terrace, Florida 33637
    (813) 470-5700
    Counties: Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas & Polk

    Southeast District:
    Robin Barrack (Robin.Barrack@dep.state.fl.us)
    400 N Congress Avenue, Suite 200,
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
    (561) 681-6661
    Counties: Broward, Dade, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach & St. Lucie

    Central District:
    Christine Daniel (christine.daniel@dep.state.fl.us)
    3319 Maguire Blvd, Suite 232
    Orlando, Florida 32803-37677
    (407) 897-2919
    Counties: Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter & Volusia

    South District:
    Terry Cerullo (Terry.Cerullo@dep.state.fl.us)
    2295 Victoria Avenue,
    Fort Myers, Florida 33901
    (239) 344-5647
    Counties:  Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Monroe & Sarasota

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Customer Service Survey

Last updated: February 06, 2014

   3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 49   Tallahassee, Florida 32399 | 850-245-2118 (phone) / 850-245-2128 (fax) |  Email DEP 
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