I took a very pleasant phone call from a man in the Division of Licensing Office this morning. I thought that I would share a follow up email with everyone. This explains the current situation pretty well.
It was a pleasure speaking with you on the telephone this morning. I am sorry that it took me so long to follow-up with you after receiving your e-mail. I have been receiving record numbers of letters, e-mail messages, and telephone calls recently, and I am running a bit behind.
As I explained to you on the telephone, the reason that our applicants are having to wait so long for their licenses is that our Division is dealing with an enormous backlog of pending a new and renewal applications. The reason for the backlog is simple. In recent years, we have seen an unprecedented increase in the demand for concealed weapon licenses. Below I have provided you with statistics reflecting the rise in the number of applications received and the number of licenses issued over the last five fiscal years.
• Fiscal Year 2007-2008: 84,065 applications received / 85,937 licenses issued (pending applications from FY 2006-2007 resulted in there being more licenses issued than applications received)
• Fiscal Year 2006-2007: 73,179 applications received / 66,078 licenses issued
• Fiscal Year 2005-2006: 58,613 applications received / 56,789 licenses issued
• Fiscal Year 2004-2005: 41,923 applications received / 39,269 licenses issued
• Fiscal Year 2003-2004: 33,449 applications received / 32,740 licenses issued
Note that in just the last three fiscal years the number of applications for new concealed weapon licenses has more than doubled!
Despite these significant increases in our workload, there has been no corresponding increase in our Division's resources. Because of budget constraints, we have simply been unable to handle the increased volume of work in as timely a manner as we would like. Our enormous backlog is the inevitable result of this set of circumstances. We are working through our backlog in the order in which incoming mail arrives in our mailroom.
Just how big is our backlog? As I told you on the telephone, as of last Monday, February 23, our staff was entering applicant information into our computer systems from applications that we received in our mailroom on December 11, 2008. Once an applicant's information is in our computer systems, the application faces another backlog of applications waiting for review to determine the applicant's eligibility. At this point, it is going to take a full three months from the time we receive an application for us to issue a license. This should give you some idea as to the magnitude of the workload problems we are facing.
I do have some reassuring news. Commissioner Bronson has been working with the Governor's Office and with officials in the House and the Senate in an effort to deal with this situation. Just last month, the Governor's Office gave us budget authority to hire additional temporary employees. Once these employees are on board and have been adequately trained, they will certainly help us improve our level of service. Moreover, we have also been given authority to work overtime hours from now to the end of this fiscal year. Finally, we have also asked for additional permanent staff in our budget request for fiscal year 2009-2010.
All of us here in the Division genuinely regret that so many of our applicants are having to wait so long for their licenses. Please rest assured that we are doing the best we can with the resources that are available to us.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. Have a pleasant weekend.
Division of Licensing
From: [My original e-mail suggestion to DOA]
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:31 PM
Subject: Customer Service Submission Form
Reason for contact: Make a suggestion/comment
Constituent Information: [Edited]
I would like to suggest that you implement a way that applicants for a Florida concealed weapon permit can check the status of their application online. This would free up your personnel who are currently answering telephone queries to help with the large backlog of applications. Since non-Floridians are also eligible to apply for a permit, I feel that is only fair that Florida residents applications be processed separately or at least given priority over non-residents. Some applicants are reporting that it has taken over four months to receive their permit. Your consideration of my suggestions to improve the Florida concealed carry weapon permit process would be greatly appreciated.
Mr. Wilkinson also said that they would also eventually like to initiate a system similar to Texas where an applicant would be given a PIN number so they could login to the system to check on their status. That would be GREAT! Currently, license renewals are give priority over new applicants. He said that resident and non resident applications are processed together. He also stated that non resident applications have not had a large impact on the current backlog. I guess that we all just have to be patient and let the system work for us.