Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $276,231)
The Union County Prosecutors Office Forensic Laboratory is seeking funds to address a backlog of cases for DNA testing in the Forensic Biology section. There has been a significant increase in submissions in the last two years, largely due to increased submissions for non-violent crimes, such as burglaries, car thefts, and criminal possession of weapons. In an effort to streamline workflows and maximize efficiency, the laboratory would like to utilize funding to train two analysts on Lean Six Sigma. By gathering more targeted data on each part of the testing and review process, the laboratory will have the information available to do a comprehensive analysis of areas of inefficiency or ineffective work practices, and the tools to evaluate the best methods for improvement. By maximizing efficiency, the laboratory will be able to enhance the capacity of the section, which will decrease both turnaround times and backlogged cases. The laboratory also plans to implement a DNA LIMS module that has been validated over the past year for casework, which will allow for greater productivity both in the performance of bench laboratory tasks as well as the review process.
The UCPO Forensic Laboratory also seeks funding to support one full-time grant funded analyst and one part-time contracted analyst in the processing, reporting, and review of DNA casework. The laboratory has utilized these staff members for over a year, and the ability to use them in their current capacity is vital to the success of the project goals. In addition, overtime funds are requested to allow for all staff to dedicate additional time to backlogged cases, and funding for additional supplies is requested to facilitate processing of the backlogged samples. With a more effective workflow, as established by Lean Six Sigma evaluation, the processing and review of cases will be more productive and allow for a significant decrease in the number of backlogged cases and a decrease in overall turnaround times. The UCPO is also requesting funding to purchase two additional copies of the STRmix software, which will allow each analyst to have their own copy, maximizing efficiency.