Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $71,530)
The Vermont Forensic Laboratory (VFL) will use the Coverdell base funding to continue to support the lab's Evidence Technician position. This is a critical role related to the laboratories ability to maintain compliance with accreditation standards to evidence receiving and handling. The laboratory receives approximately 3,000 cases annually. The Evidence Technician receives all evidence, logs evidence, and processes the case information into the lab information system. The individual's role is critical in ensuring proper packaging, chain of custody, appropriate and clear analytical requests and evidence returns are conducted according to lab policies. Each case submission can take as little as 15 minutes or up to an hour, depending on the amount of evidence and the preparation of the submitter. Without a dedicated Evidence Technician, section analysts would have to participate in the evidence submission process, performing all the activities involved with receipt, log in, and storage. This would be approximately 3000 hours of analytical time lost. The lab has identified in the pastthat this duty should be assigned to a dedicated individual for consistency in evidence handling & processing and compliance with laboratory evidence submission procedures. The impact of lost analyst time is illustrated in the controlled substance/drug chemistry section where 50% of case work reported by the VFL is from the drug chemistry section where approximately 750 cases per year are reported. The number of cases the drug section would be able to complete would decline significantly. Further impact would be seen in the training of lab analysts in the submission process and continued The Evidence Technician also assists analysts through follow-up information if needed and maintenance of evidence inventory. The Evidence Technician position increases and improves the efficiency of all sections within the laboratory; reduces backlogs through active case management for analysts and allows more bench time for analysts/examiners. Without this position, time spent by analysts to perform these activities would be time not spent reducing the backlog. With the Evidence Technician, current numbers of cases and timeliness will be maintained. The continued funding of the evidence technician position helps the laboratory maintain compliance with its accreditation as many of the required standards relate to the management of the evidence handling and security program. If the position is lost, case processing rates will be reduced proportional to submissions in a given analytical area and have an impact on the laboratories ability to maintain compliance with accreditation standards.