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Recognition Reiterated. Well Done Havers, Hawkes and Wheeler!

There is a group in Tallahassee called Florida Tax Watch. Among their missions, they have a process for recognizing people in state government for their ideas on saving money. Primarily, they are concerned with tax money, and the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims does not use any tax money. The OJCC is funded 100% by assessments that are imposed on insurance policies issued for workers' compensation. The same is true for the Division of Workers' Compensation. This self-executing system that we have is also designed to be self-financing.

So, when someone at the OJCC conceives a way to save money, it may not have the impact on tax dollars which an idea at the Department of Transportation or Department of Corrections might have. However, efficiency is important in government. The OJCC is consistently looking for ways to conserve resources. 

Over the last few years, Florida Tax Watch has recognized several OJCC efforts. For the most part, these have been related to the e-filing process. The merits of that process and the efficiency that the process brings to the marketplace are described briefly in another blog, but the bottom line is that OJCC efforts are saving the marketplace of workers' compensation many dollars annually. We have been proud to see our efforts adopted by the First District Court of Appeal. They were the first court in Florida to adopt e-filing, to manage documents electronically, and to thereby save the taxpayers significant money. Their efforts were noticed and then adopted by other courts. 

The Florida Tax Watch has published a directory of the “Top 25 Adaptable Achievements.” This is in keeping with the organization's recognition of state employees who conceive change, believe change, and make change, which saves the state and our customer’s money. Adaptability is critical in my opinion, because what works for one agency, and saves money, can work in others and the savings become exponential. Out of twenty-five "Adaptable" innovations selected for special recognition, two of the achievements are of particular note in my opinion.

Walter Havers was recognized for the electronic record of appeal in 2010.

The First District Court of Appeal was recognized in 2011 for their adaptation of our e-filing system and development of a document management system. Judge Paul Hawkes and Clerk Jon Wheeler led that project. They and the Court IT team were behind this project.

The Tax Watch organization has now recognized both of these achievements in their “Top 25 Adaptable Achievements.” The fact that these innovators were previously recognized for their efforts is gratifying. That they are now being recognized again in this context is likewise gratifying. 

Mr. Havers was the OJCC Senior Counsel when he developed and deployed the electronic record. He has since moved on, and now works as one of our State Mediators in the Miami District Office. 

Judge Paul Hawkes was Chief Judge when the Court implemented e-filing and document management. He has since moved on from the First District Court, and practices appellate law in Tallahassee. 

Jon Wheeler was the Court's Clerk when they implemented e-filing. I have spoken with him often about that transition and his herculean efforts related to it. He is still the Clerk of the First DCA, and perhaps always will be. I know that is not realistic, but Mr. Wheeler has been the Clerk as long as I can remember, and I have trouble picturing the Court without him. 

Congratulations to these award recipients! I am proud of any role the OJCC has played in these advances. I am proud to know these leaders, and to celebrate their recognition here. 

Have you been recognized for a contribution to your community, bar, or otherwise? Email me david.langham@doah.state.fl.us and you might see it mentioned here. 


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