The mission of DOPL is to protect the public and to enhance commerce through licensing and regulation.
- Provide courteous customer service that is responsive, accurate, and informative
- Collaborate with stakeholders to balance regulation and commerce
- Administer programs and applications efficiently
- Enforce laws effectively and in a timely manner
- Promote a positive working environment where employees can participate and develop as teams and individuals
The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, also known as DOPL, is one of seven agencies within the Utah Department of Commerce. DOPL is legislatively charged to administer and enforce specific laws related to the licensing and regulation of certain occupations and professions.
Currently, DOPL issues licenses in approximately 60 categories of licensure. Additionally, the majority of these license categories include several individual license classifications. For example, within the nursing profession, licenses can be obtained for an LPN, RN, CRNA, APRN, or CNM. As of March 2010, over 170,000 individuals and businesses held licenses issued by DOPL. Annually, DOPL reviews an average of over 24,000 new applications and processes approximately 58,000 renewal applications. Current professions licensed by DOPL.
To fulfill its responsibilities, DOPL's efforts are organized into two primary functions: licensing and investigations. DOPL also houses several independent programs related to its licensing and investigative functions. DOPL is headed by a division director who is appointed by the Department of Commerce's Executive Director with the Governor's approval.
DOPL's authority is found in the Occupational and Professional Licensing Act (Title 58 of the Utah Code). Enacted by the Utah Legislature, Title 58 contains individual licensing acts for each occupation and profession administered by DOPL. Title R156 of the Utah Administrative Code contains the corresponding licensing act rules.
Chapter 1 of Title 58 and Chapter 1 of Title R156 are called "umbrella chapters" because they consist of general provisions that apply uniformly to all occupations and professions regulated by DOPL. However, the provisions in the specific chapters under these titles are unique to each respective occupation or profession. For example, Title 58, Chapter 24a is the Physical Therapist Practice Act, and Title R156, Chapter 24a is the Physical Therapist Practice Act Rules. Similarly, Title 58, Chapter 22 is the Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors Licensing Act, and Title R156, Chapter 22 is the Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors Licensing Act Rules.
Within DOPL's licensing function, responsibilities are divided among seven bureaus focused on the regulation of similar groups of occupations and professions. Each bureau is headed by a bureau manager who is assisted by a board secretary, two or more licensing specialists, and in some cases, several auditors or other licensing or compliance specialists. The staff of each bureau is responsible for processing license applications, answering questions, and responding to other inquiries for each profession within its respective bureau.
Professional licensure requires each applicant to meet some minimum standard for his or her respective occupation or profession. Policies are developed by the licensing boards and DOPL to determine which applications are reviewed and which applicants are interviewed by the respective boards. If the board is not involved in either review, clear-cut requirements are evaluated by DOPL's licensing staff before a license is granted to the applicant.
DOPL is assisted in fulfilling its responsibilities by approximately 60 professional boards and commissions. Each board or commission is comprised of licensees from the respective profession(s) and usually includes at least one member of the general public appointed to represent the viewpoint and concerns of Utah's consumers.
Board and commission members are appointed by the Department of Commerce's Executive Director and are confirmed by the Governor. Appointments are made from persons nominated by professional associations or groups representing the respective profession or occupation, by individuals who have an interest in regulation of the profession or occupation, by other board members, or by other credible and responsible sources. (Information on how to become a board member).
A board or commission appointment generally lasts four years, and members may not serve for more than two consecutive terms. Additionally, due to the potential for conflicts of interest, board members may not serve simultaneously as officers of professional associations or similar organizations.
DOPL's boards and commissions act in an advisory role in that they recommend, assist, and support DOPL in taking appropriate action in licensure and investigative matters. The specific responsibilities of the boards, commissions, and DOPL and their relationship to one another are primarily explained in the Utah Code under sections 58-1-106, -201, -202, and -203. Many boards and commissions meet monthly. However, some may meet every other month, quarterly, or as needed depending on the amount of business scheduled for review. Board and commission meetings are generally open to the public. If necessary, however, they may be closed in accordance with Utah's open meetings laws.
DOPL is legislatively responsible to investigate all unlawful and unprofessional practices as detailed in statute or rule that are performed within its regulated occupations and professions.
DOPL's Bureau of Investigations is comprised of approximately 30 investigators who are trained and experienced in investigative procedures. Many of DOPL's investigators are retired law enforcement officers from jurisdictions throughout the state and country. DOPL's investigators and in-house legal counsel work closely with the Utah Attorney General's Office, which provides DOPL with legal assistance for licensure and investigative functions.
Upon receipt of a complaint of unprofessional or unlawful conduct, investigative personnel enter the information into a computerized database. Complaints are not only posted for immediate investigative purposes, but also for analyzing long-term patterns of behavior. Complaints are confidential in nature and are not generally available to the public. However, in certain situations, the information contained in a complaint may be shared with other governmental agencies -- if the other agency demonstrates a legal basis for the sharing of the information.
Complaints are reviewed by DOPL's chief investigator or by an investigative supervisor who determines its priority for investigation. At times, however, DOPL is legally unable to investigate or take action on a complaint due to lack of authority or jurisdiction. It may also be determined that the complaint would be better handled by another agency. In either situation, the complaint would be referred to the appropriate agency for review.
The following statutes and rules relate to the governance of public bodies, including licensing boards:
Utah Administrative Procedures Act, 63G-4
Department of Commerce Administrative Procedures Act Rules, R151-46b
Division Utah Administrative Procedures Act Rules, R156-46b
Utah Rulemaking Act, 63G-3
Utah Rulemaking Act Rules, 15-1, 15-2, 15-3, 15-4, 15-5
Open and Public Meetings Act, 52-4
Government Records and Access Management Act (GRAMA), 63G-2
Government Records and Access Management Act Rules, R151-46a
CHEATING ON EXAMINATIONS
Cheating on Examinations is viewed as unprofessional conduct and can result in DOPL failing to license, suspending or revoking licensure. Please review R156-1-302
for additional defination and actions associated with this behaviour.
Prelitigation: The coordination of medical malpractice prelitigation panels is intended to expedite early evaluation and settlement of malpractice claims and to decrease the soaring number of malpractice suits and claims arising from health care.
Controlled Substance Database: This program is a resource to aid in the prevention, enforcement, and treatment of controlled substance abuse and diversion. This is accomplished through the statewide collection of all Schedule II-V controlled substance records.
Residential Lien Recovery Fund: The Act that created this fund provides protection from mechanics’ liens for homeowners who comply with statutory requirements. It also created a fund for persons who are thereby no longer able to recover payment through the mechanics’ lien process.
Uniform Building Codes Training: This program uses a one percent surcharge on all building permits issued in Utah to provide grants for building codes training to building inspectors and individuals engaged in construction-related trades.
State Construction Registry: The SCR is an online "bulletin board" providing full disclosure to property owners, contractors, and other interested parties, of people providing goods and services to a construction project. By providing a centralized resource for project participant information, the SCR helps property owners minimize unknown project liability and risk.