Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $887,156)
The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Scientific Analysis Bureau (SAB) has been aggressively pursuing opportunities to improve system efficiency over the past several years; however, the backlog of cases pending a DNA analysis has remained steady since January 2021; oscillating between 700 and 800 cases. While substantial process improvements have been made, the SAB continues to struggle with effectively aligning those improvements with other Bureau goals, such as implementation of paperless processing, training new DNA analysts, maximizing inadequate operational budgets, and enhancing DNA testing technology, which can distract analysts from casework and initially be more time consuming as analysts become accustomed to new methods and workflows.
Additionally, as the laboratory continues to employee Lean Six Sigma process improvement methods to the analytical process, they have realized the laboratory space is underutilized and the design is no longer allowing analysts to work in the most efficient manner possible. The space was designed almost 25 years ago, with now antiquated equipment in mind and a much smaller staff. Remodeling the space will have the effect of allowing analysts to move more efficiently between steps; maximize the use of space by repurposing vacant rooms for additional workspace or more appropriate storage of samples and supplies; allow team members to communicate more effectively and ensure flexibility for future staff and technology considerations.
Despite the DNA Database unit being staffed at the bare minimum, including only one grant-funded analyst assigned to checking in samples, there is currently no backlog of samples older than 30 days. Grant funding will be requested to continue supporting the program and assist the section as they try to maintain a zero backlog while facing the following challenges:
Working to reconcile over 20,000 lawfully owed DNA samples that were potentially never collected.
Assisting the SAB RapidDNA team with implementation of testing at booking stations.
Keeping up with triple the amount of CODIS hit confirmations that have resulted from uploading outsourced DNA profiles to CODIS.
This project is intended to assist the DPS SAB DNA Unit fulfill its mission of assisting the community and the criminal justice community by providing resources necessary for the DNA section to continue with process improvement projects, efficiently process DNA samples without suspension due to budget constraints, update antiquated equipment and facility space, fund training as required by the FBI and QAS, and provide support personnel to facilitate uninterrupted processing of samples.