The DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program provides funding to states and units of local government with existing crime laboratories that conduct DNA analysis. The goal of the program is to increase the capacity of publicly funded forensic DNA and DNA database laboratories to process more DNA samples, thereby helping to reduce the number of forensic DNA and DNA database samples awaiting analysis.
Eligible applicants are states and units of local government with existing crime laboratories or laboratory systems that conduct forensic DNA and/or DNA database sample analysis and:
- Participate in external audits, not less than once every 2 years, that demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Quality Assurance Standards established by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
- Are accredited by a nonprofit professional organization actively involved in forensic science that is nationally recognized within the forensic science community.
- Participate in the National DNA Index System (NDIS), or have an agreement with an NDIS-participating laboratory to upload the data.
Among other things, eligibility for CEBR funding requires governments to be accredited and have access to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Typically, more laboratories become eligible for funding under the CEBR Program by achieving accreditation and gaining CODIS access which is demonstrated by a general increase in awards over the years. However, decreases in awards may be seen if laboratories choose not to seek funding, fail to meet the eligibility requirements, or opt for the state laboratory to manage the award for all participating laboratories within the state (which then participate as subgrantees to the state).
History of the CEBR Program
The DNA Identification Act of 1994 authorized the creation of NDIS and provided the first funds for capacity building purposes. The DNA Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 authorized the Department of Justice to provide grants for state and local laboratories to process samples for inclusion in the FBI’s CODIS. In 2004, the DNA Backlog Elimination Act was reauthorized and renamed the “Debbie Smith Act” after sexual assault survivor Debbie Smith, and it continues to this day to authorize funding for eligible public laboratories to (1) process DNA samples for inclusion in CODIS and (2) increase the capacity of laboratories to process DNA samples for inclusion in CODIS.
When the grant program was first offered in 2005, it contained two related components: (1) the Forensic DNA Capacity Enhancement Program and (2) the Forensic DNA Casework Reduction Program. In fiscal year 2007, the two programs were combined, and in fiscal year 2011, the Convicted Offender and/or Arrestee DNA Backlog Reduction Program was incorporated into the DNA Backlog Reduction Program. The consolidation of the related programs to one program was designed to make it easier for grantees to use federal funds to fulfill their individual needs. The program has since been named the "DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction Program."
Why Is the Program So Important?
As technology advances to improve the analysis of DNA evidence, there is a respective increase in demand for DNA testing. Furthermore, the technology is becoming more complex and costlier, and laboratory budgets struggle to meet the increased demand as identified in DOJ’s Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories. Delays in testing evidence result in delays in justice, which can lead to additional victimization by serial offenders or incarceration of the innocent.
Based on the reported metrics, the CEBR Program has contributed to more than half of all CODIS hits.