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DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program

FY 2023 Funding Available
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About the Program

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.

Eligibility Requirements

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.

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).

Note: There will be changes to the eligibility requirements in the FY 2023 solicitation. Please see the FY 2023 Program Updates and Changes section of the site for more information.

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. The legislation authorizes 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 into 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 costly, and laboratory budgets struggle to meet the increased demand, as identified in DOJ’s 2019 Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical Examiner-Coroner Offices. Delays in testing evidence result in delays in justice, which could allow someone to commit additional crimes of leave an innocent person incarcerated.

The CEBR Program has contributed to more than half of all CODIS hits.

Date Modified: January 27, 2023
Date Created: June 27, 2022