Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $619,160)
The District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) is the Cabinet-level agency responsible for the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Crime Scene Sciences (CSS), and Public Health Laboratory (PHL) services in the District of Columbia. Within the FSL, the Forensic Biology Unit (FBU) processes and performs serological and DNA testing on items of evidence associated with criminal investigations. The DFS FBU has historically been an NDIS-participating laboratory, and will resume participation upon reaccreditation. The federal funding from the FY21 Capacity Enhancement Program for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program will be used for the goals of reducing the backlog of forensic biology cases by increasing laboratory capacity, as well as reducing turnaround time by increasing efficiency throughout the laboratory process. In order to meet these goals, the DFS plans to use the grant award to fund seven (7) full time positions, to include six (6) Forensic Scientists I (3 CS-11 and 3 CS-9) and one (1) Casework Liaison (1 CS-9). This funding will enhance capacity by employing the six (6) scientists who will increase the in-house testing capacity to address the ever-increasing number of casework requests by submitting agencies. Each of the six (6) scientists will be responsible for processing casework submitted to the unit for forensic biology testing by performing critical laboratory functions and/or reporting findings in formal reports. These scientists will work in a team approach, which will increase capacity and improve efficiency, which will ultimately reduce turnaround time. Laboratory capacity will be further enhanced by improving the efficiency of case intake. This efficiency is improved by funding one (1) casework liaison to complete routine triage and administrative case intake functions prior to the initiation of casework, thereby allowing scientists to focus on casework tasks. The DFS also plans to use the grant award to fund outsourcing of CODIS ownership reviews of technical data generated by a vendor laboratory for upload to NDIS. This will help to maintain an updated caseload upon resumption of casework, in order to enhance public safety within the District. Overall, this utilization of funding will serve the District of Columbia and its’ residents through the enhancement of public safety and resolution of criminal investigations in a more timely, efficient manner.