The Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency was created in 2019 in accordance with the objectives in Governor Ron DeSantis' Executive Order. The office, which is led by the Chief Science Officer and is located in the Office of the Secretary, is charged with ensuring key water quality objectives are clearly communicated to the public, as well as organizing agency resources and scientific expertise, data and research to focus on and solve complex challenges. The roles and responsibilities of the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency include:
Provide leadership for agency priority issues that require integration of science, policy and management from multiple programs and organizations internal and external to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Organize and manage external communication on priority issues.
Promote and facilitate key agency research initiatives to address priority environmental issues.
Explore data and identify opportunities for innovative approaches to addressing priority environmental issues.
About the Chief Science Officer
Dr. Mark Rains was announced as chief science officer on March 30, 2021. This position was established by Governor Ron DeSantis in his Executive Order in January 2019, and Dr. Rains is the second state CSO in Florida’s history.
This position focuses on leading statewide strategies to address priority environmental issues statewide, and works to ensure that science is at the forefront of environmental protection and policy. With vast expertise engaging across sectors, Dr. Rains is dedicated to working with stakeholders to ensure common values are implemented in science-based policy decisions.
Dr. Rains currently serves as a professor and chair and director of the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from the University of California at San Diego, his master’s degree in Forest Resources from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences from the University of California at Davis. Dr. Rains is also a certified professional wetland scientist with years of experience in both the public and private sectors in Florida, Alaska and California.
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.