Agency Primer: Department of Safety and Professional Services

Agency Primer by IRG:

Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services

2011 Wisconsin Act 32 created the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) by combining the Department of Regulation and Licensing (DRL) and the Divisions of Safety and Buildings and Environmental and Regulatory Services from the Department of Commerce. The Department is headed by a Secretary appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. A fee-based agency, DSPS is self-sustaining and receives no general fund tax dollars for its day-to-day operations.

Historically, DRL’s responsibilities changed significantly since its creation through Chapter 75, Laws of 1967. From performing routine housekeeping functions for the examining boards that operated as independent agencies at the time to the department assuming various administrative functions previously performed by the boards, including direct regulation of several professions.

The Divisions of Safety and Buildings and Environmental and Regulatory Services have also seen significant changes since its creation. In 1914, the Division of Safety and Buildings saw the adoption of its first building code. Originally, the Division of Safety and Buildings set standards for a safe place of employment and was eventually extended to include public buildings. Over the years, additional programs were added including plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and electrical inspection and certification. DSPS’s Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services was created by 1995 Wisconsin Act 27 and was removed under 2011 Wisconsin Act 32. Today, DSPS is responsible for ensuring the safe and competent practice of licensed professionals in Wisconsin. The department also administers and enforces laws to assure safe and sanitary conditions in public and private buildings. It provides administrative services to the state occupational regulatory authorities responsible for regulation of occupations and offers policy assistance in such areas as evaluating and establishing new professional licensing programs, creating routine procedures for legal proceedings, and adjusting policies in response to public needs.

DSPS licenses and regulates more than 200 different types of credentials. The agency also provides centralized administrative services to nearly 100 boards, councils, and advisory committees. The boards, councils, and advisory committees have varying levels of responsibility and professional oversight based on statutory provisions.

DSPS central office is located in Madison, Wisconsin with customer service walk-in hours. DSPS has four field offices for industry services. These field offices do not offer walk-up counter services and are not staffed to support credentialing. Locations of the field offices include: Green Bay, Hayward, Onalaska, and Waukesha.

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