Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $627,685)
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 is an NDIS-participating laboratory. The federal funding from the FY22 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 three (3) Forensic Scientists I (CS-11), two (2) Forensic Scientists (CS-9), one (1) Forensic Science Technician (CS-9), and one (1) Casework Liaison (CS-9). This funding will enhance capacity by employing the five (5) scientists who will increase the in-house testing capacity to address the ever-increasing number of casework requests from submitting agencies. Each of the five (5) 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. The technician will aid in the overall continuity of operations in the laboratory. Duties include day-to-day maintenance in the laboratory which involves reagent preparation and quality control of consumables, instrument maintenance, evidence handling, stocking of laboratory supplies, and cleaning glassware to ensure it is free of exogenous DNA. This preparatory work improves the productivity of the scientists by freeing up their time to complete higher level assignments such as casework processing and interpretation of DNA evidence. 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. This will help to reduce the backlog of case submissions and supplement in-house output as casework resumes. 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.