Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,954,978)
The North Carolina State Crime Laboratory has the responsibility of providing forensic DNA testing and convicted offender/arrestee testing for the entire state. Funding from this award will be used to increase testing capacity and reduce the number of backlogged cases, and maintain the capacity of the Database Section for the analysis of database samples and upload into CODIS. As a result of recent legislation requiring the testing of all sexual assault kits (SAKs), the Casework Section has experienced a dramatic increase in SAK submissions. During calendar year 2020 a 72% increase in SAK submissions were noted when compared to calendar year 2019. The increase in SAK submissions has directly attributed to the 117% increase in backlogged cases the casework Section has experienced during the same time period. The Casework Section anticipates that previously implemented laboratory efficiencies as well funds from this award will be used to increase its testing capacity. The Database Section has worked with the State IT Department to identify lawfully owed database samples. The section has partnered with law enforcement agencies so that those samples may be collected and submitted for inclusion into the DNA Database. It is expected to lead to an increase in submitted samples over the next few years. Even with an increase in sample submissions, the database section looks to use previously implemented efficiencies and funds from this award to maintain its current backlog of 22 days. The Laboratory has used funding from previous awards to reduce its backlog of Forensic Biology/DNA cases. Likewise, funding from previous awards were used to reduce the backlog of database samples. Prior successes in these areas have been maintained, in part, through grant funding for laboratory supplies and training of analyst. The Laboratory plans to continue the model of requesting additional funds for laboratory supplies and instrumentation. The Database Section has also used grant funding for the procurement of database offender collection devices that enable the Section to utilize an automated process. Funding from this award will also be used for training travel has been made to help provide continuing education opportunities for analysts in both Sections. The continuing education opportunities are essential to ensure both sections stay abreast of the latest advances in DNA technologies. All of the requests in this award coupled with previous and continued process improvements, will aid both sections in achieving the goals set forth in this award.