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Tennessee's DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Initiative

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $2,862,095)

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation seeks funding under the FY 2023 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program to support the reduction of DNA casework and database backlogs, improve turnaround times, and enhance capacity to produce and upload CODIS eligible profiles for Tennessee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Forensic Services Division is the state crime laboratory system responsible for processing evidence for every law enforcement agency and medical examiner from 95 counties and 31 jurisdictions in the state of Tennessee.  The system is made up of 3 laboratory locations with Forensic Biology Units conducting DNA testing, and a separate CODIS Unit in the Nashville lab which manages statewide arrestee and offender database entries and hits.  Currently, the Forensic Biology and CODIS Units process cases for 969 active submitting agencies from throughout the state each year.

As the total number of forensic DNA cases submitted increased by 16 percent from 2019 to 2022, the Forensic Services Division seeks to build capacity to produce CODIS eligible profiles, increase throughput of forensic cases, and reduce by 12.5 percent both the current forensic backlog and turnaround time.   If funded, this award will assist in meeting these outcomes through through the provision of overtime, temporary forensic personnel, training, supplies, and purchase of additional extraction and PCR workstation equipment to support additional DNA forensic scientists.  

While the CODIS Unit has reduced database sample turnaround time from 3.4 months (2020) to 2.5 months (2022), the ability to further improve turnaround is limited due to outsourcing these samples to an external vendor.  By transitioning to in-house database testing, distributing new collection kits, and adding rapid DNA to support more timely verifications of CODIS hits, this funding will allow the Bureau to significantly reduce the time it takes from when a sample is received to when it is entered into CODIS and a report produced for the submitting Tennessee agency.

Date Created: September 8, 2023