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Utah Forensic Genetic Genealogy DNA Testing Initiative

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Salt Lake
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $300,000)

The Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS), State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is seeking $300,000 for the project period of May 1, 2023, through April 30, 2027. Funding will be used for the Utah Forensic Genetic Genealogy DNA Testing Initiative to purchase Advanced DNA Testing, up to and including Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) on violent felony and Unidentified Human Remains (UHR) cases. DPS houses the Utah Cold Case Database of more than 552 cold cases; with at least 290 unsolved homicides, and 76 sets of unidentified human remains. Some cases hold the potential of being resolved with advanced DNA testing. DPS plans to support the 150+ agencies statewide with testing resources.

In 2020, DPS was awarded a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant which provides statewide funding for all types of Advanced DNA Testing including FGG/IGG on unsolved sexually motivated homicides and cold case sexual assaults. Today’s request pertains to the hundreds of cases, including 85% of the unsolved homicides, and all of the UHR cases, that do not qualify for SAKI funding. The cost of Advanced DNA testing is an obstacle for smaller agencies in rural areas, of which 25 of Utah’s 29 counties are defined. The SAKI project has fostered relationships with agencies all over Utah.  They are familiar with SBI, and Advanced DNA Testing, so partnering on additional cases is instinctive and comfortable.   

The Utah Bureau of Forensic Services (UBFS), the Statewide Information and Analysis Center (SIAC), and the Bureau of Criminal Identification also directly support agencies.  DPS is also home to the Utah Cold Case Review Board, which reviews cases and makes investigative recommendations. This forum inspired unprecedented collaboration with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner which is located on our campus. DPS personnel attend the DOJ – BJA Forensic Genetic Genealogy Trainings and are committed to stewarding this technology within the guidelines set forth in the 2019 US DOJ Interim Policy on FGG DNA Analysis and Searching. DPS also played a lead role in creating SB156 in the 2023 Utah Legislative session which codified the ethical and responsible use of FGG/IGG in Utah.

DPS has the personnel and processes in place to support agencies, provide training, and assist in case resolution. The outsourcing contracts needed for this project have been established via a competitive procurement process # NN22-63 that was conducted by the State of Utah, Division of Purchasing after a nationwide Request for Proposal.

Date Created: August 10, 2023