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BJA FY 2023 Formula DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $650,000)

The Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (AKSCDL), a division of the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS), is solely responsible for analyzing evidentiary material associated with criminal investigations statewide. Pursuant to AS44.41.035, the DPS-AKSCDL is also the agency responsible for conducting analysis on DNA samples collected from qualifying convicted offenders and arrestees in the state of Alaska and storing and maintaining the resultant profiles in the State DNA Index System. 

Nearly 20% of the laboratory’s forensic cases are submitted for DNA analysis, with over half of those cases including a sexual assault offense. Overall, the number of requests submitted to the laboratory has continued to rise in recent years, in part owing to “test all” Sexual Assault Kit legislation that was enacted in January of 2020. The increase in cases is anticipated to continue as legislated enacted in January of 2023 expanded the scope of chargeable offenses by removing the requirement for an element of force.

As the only forensic laboratory providing DNA analysis in the State of Alaska, the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (AKSCDL) has the potential to be the rate limiting step in the criminal justice system for prosecuting these cases. With recent staffing increases, to handle the high volume of sexual assaults, and the complex nature of the analysis, the forensic biology unit continues to be significantly more expensive to operate than other laboratory disciplines. The Federal funding from this award will help to alleviate this burden by providing supplies for processing these cases, increasing the number of CODIS eligible samples analyzed and reducing the backlog of forensic casework requests. Additionally, by funding annual pipette calibrations and providing for the required continuing education of DNA analysts, this award will assist the laboratory in maintaining some of its current capabilities and meeting quality assurance requirements for accredited laboratories.

With the supply funds requested under this award, the AKSCDL commits to the analysis of at least 499 forensic biology casework requests (at ~$1,000 per case) and 2,334 DNA database samples (at ~$50 per sample). The laboratory anticipates processing more cases and database samples than this during the award period, with funds from the laboratory operating budget. The lab will also continue to work towards achieving a consistent turnaround time of less than 60 days for forensic biology casework requests. The turnaround time for database analysis will continue to meet the statutory requirement of 90 days.

Date Created: September 8, 2023