October 3, 2008

Dear Friends:

It's my goal to meet with every one of our boards, visit all of our regional offices, and meet with licensees in all the major metropolitan areas in Florida for "On the Road to Better Business" by the end of the year. Needless to say, it's been a very busy month.

This week, my travels brought me to Jacksonville for the Board of Pilot Commissioners quarterly meeting. For those who don't know what a harbor pilot does, let me explain. These are the people who guide the huge ships into our ports every day. In most cases, these very experienced seamen have worked for years in the U.S. Merchant Marine before they even become eligible for the position of Captain in one of our ports. Not only are these mariners experts in general seamanship, but they also intimately know the ports and their hazards to navigation within the ports. There are 11 ports in the state, 93 licensed state pilots, and 8 deputy pilots.

Our Department and the U.S. Coast Guard license these professionals. In fact, Florida Statutes require the Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to select the candidates for any openings for that occur in our ports. I take this responsibility very seriously due to the security concerns in our ports and the importance of pilots' roles in our economy. Just imagine what would happen to our economy if ships could not enter the ports safely. It was an honor to attend the Board meeting and get to know the people who safely navigate ships to Florida's ports.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to update you on some important internal meetings I held this week. As you know, Governor Crist launched "Accelerate Florida" and charged me and Department staff with identifying ways to remove barriers from our processes and create better ones that will allow business to thrive. I’d like to share a few of the accomplishments we’ve made so far:

  • Enhanced Web site Functionality to provide more detailed, up-to-date information 24/7. This enhancement saves applicants and the agency money and expedites the licensing process.
  • Improved Application Process to allow applicants to complete applications electronically with the ability to save information to their personal computers for future editing and completion.
  • Enhanced Customer Contact Center by increasing staffing in each subject matter area based on call volume, filling all vacancies, adding bilingual agents, removing supervisor approval to empower agents to request follow-up within the Department.

These are only a few of the changes we've made at the Department. In order to keep you informed as we make progress, we've developed an "Accelerate Florida" Web page, which will be updated with every enhancement we make. To access the page, click on the icon in the bottom righthand corner of MyFloridaLicense.com.

As you can see, I've been working diligently at improving the ways we serve you. I can assure you that my executive assistant, Lisa Shutes, never has a dull day. In fact, she's been instrumental in keeping my wife, Cindy, up to speed in a game they jokingly refer to as, "Where is Chuck today?" Speaking of which, I’d like to invite you to join me in Jacksonville on Thursday, Oct. 9, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for "On the Road to Better Business." I have yet to hear from our hotels, restaurants, and alcohol licensees, so I’d like to send a special invitation to those of you who work in those industries.

Sincerely,

Chuck Drago's Signature

Charles W. Drago
Secretary

Department of Business and
Professional Regulation
1940 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Customer Contact Center:
850.487.1395

www.MyFloridaLicense.com

On the Road to Better Business

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Pilot boat escorting a container ship in a Florida harbor

A pilot boat escorts a pilot to navigate a ship through a Florida harbor.

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