Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $489,843)
The Division of Forensic Science is the agency that is responsible for analyzing evidential
material associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies
and medical examiners within the state of Delaware. Delaware Code (Title 29, Chapter 47)
designates the DE DFS as the agency responsible for conducting DNA analysis on DNA samples
collected by the Delaware Department of Corrections from all convicted felons; the DE DFS is
responsible for storing and maintaining the resultant DNA profiles in the Delaware State DNA
The state of Delaware has seen an increase in the number of cases submitted to the DFS-DNA
unit for DNA analysis roughly every year (excluding 2020) since the early 2000s. This is partly
due to an increase in sexual assault case submissions as a result of SAKI (Sexual Assault Kit
Initiative, where all sexual assault cases will be tested, even though we are not required by
legislation to do so), and partly due to a general rise, over time, in submissions on all other types
of cases. In 2020, the level of cases coming into the office decreased, possibly due to the
COVID-19 pandemic. The caseload picked back up in 2021 and for 2022 they are continuously
rising once again.
At the beginning of 2021 we had 3 cases that were deemed to be in the backlog (greater than 30
days old.) Our turn- around time (TAT) was 43.4 total days, or 28.6 working days (submission to
completion). At the end of 2021, our TAT time was 55.4 total days or 39.1 working days
(submission to completion). This increase was due to a temporary staffing issue coupled with a
steady increase in our caseload. We are a small unit of 10 people, total. When we have someone
absent from the lab for an extended period of time it greatly affects our operation. The DNA unit
always attempts to be as efficient as possible in order to make up for these temporary setbacks.
One goal that has remained constant is the need to decrease the TAT and maintain the very near
zero backlog. With the funds from this particular project we expect to achieve the following:
1. Decrease current forensic DNA case backlog through the purchasing new equipment and
2. Maintain the zero backlog we currently have in the database section as well, through the
purchasing new equipment and supplies.
3. Provide the required continuing education needed for each analyst in the unit.
By the end of this award period, The DE DFS - DNA Unit can expect to complete at least 250
cases. The agency also expects to process and complete at least 1,250 DNA database samples
using funds from this grant. With each analyst increasing their throughput for casework, we
expect that the TAT will decrease to at least 45 total days and 29 working days.