Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $150,000)
A grant award under the FY17 DNA Backlog Reduction Program would support ongoing capacity increases in the Forensic Biology/DNA Unit of the Anne Arundel County Police Department Crime Laboratory to reduce the number of DNA samples awaiting analysis.
Enhanced productivity and efficiency is expected to minimize the existing case backlog thereby decreasing the overall turnaround time for newly submitted Forensic Biology cases through the following objectives:
1. Retention of a full-time temporary grant-funded Biology/DNA Analyst via salary funding to perform independent DNA casework analysis.
2. Retention of a full-time temporary grant-funded Biology/DNA Laboratory Technician via salary funding. The Laboratory Technician will assist the Biology/DNA Unit with various laboratory duties including but not limited to, quality assurance and control, general housekeeping, reagent preparation, and administrative aide.
3. Funding for approximately four hundred (400) hours of overtime during the award period within the DNA unit.
4. Purchasing of specialized laboratory equipment including a thermal cycler and various laboratory consumables including pipette tips, scalpels, etc.
First, the FY17 DNA Backlog Reduction Program grant award would provide funding for the retention of a W-2 FTE Forensic Chemist II under a temporary County contract. The Forensic Chemist II conducts DNA analysis for casework in the Biology/DNA unit. As a National DNA Index System (NDIS) participating laboratory, the Forensic Chemist II DNA Analyst enters data into CODIS, and data where applicable, is uploaded into NDIS. The Forensic DNA Analyst also reviews the eligibility of DNA profiles from casework. The scope of this grant award position also involves peer review for the unit, participation in quality assurance and control duties, and providing expert witness testimony. Additionally, the Forensic Chemist II DNA Analyst performs other duties as assigned.
Second, the FY17 DNA Backlog Reduction Program grant award would provide funding to retain the Biology/DNA Laboratory Technician as a temporary County Contract employee to assist the Biology/DNA unit with general laboratory duties including QA/QC, reagent preparation, administrative tasks, and general housekeeping. The support function provided by this position aide in reducing the backlog. The essential tasks performed by the Laboratory Technician are duties that cannot be readily accomplished by analysts without negatively impacting case turnaround times and throughput.
Third, the FY17 DNA Backlog Reduction Program grant award would provide funding for approximately four hundred (400) overtime hours for the DNA/Biology Unit. The overtime hours would decrease the DNA case backlog by approximately eighty (80) cases over the award period.
Fourth, the FY17 DNA Backlog Reduction Program grant award would allow for the purchase of specialized DNA analysis equipment and laboratory consumables to keep up with the demand of added casework and personnel. A next generation thermal cycler and additional pipette tips, scalpels, etc. will increase throughput of casework samples.
In conclusion, the FY17 DNA Backlog Reduction Program grant funding will allow the DNA/Biology Unit to increase the processing, recordation, screening, and analysis of Forensic DNA case samples therefore, reducing the overall backlog. Without the grant funding of two additional positions including the Forensic Chemist II and Laboratory Technician, historically, the backlog spiked quickly, resulting in missed trial dates. The grant requests are critical to addressing the current case submission levels for the DNA/Biology unit to meet adequate turnaround times for the Department as well as the States Attorneys Office trial deadlines. Grant funding will significantly reduce the DNA case backlog and improve the DNA/Biology units output.