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NIJ and FBI Laboratory Partnership to Address Untested Sexual Assault Kits

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $4,874,000)

During a sexual assault, biological material may be transferred from the perpetrator to the victim, increasing the chance for DNA evidence to be used to verify that a crime occurred and to identify the individual who committed the crime. In order to perform DNA analysis, evidence must first be collected from victims of sexual assaults using sexual  assault kits (SAKs) and then submitted to a National DNA Index System (NDIS)  participating forensic laboratory for DNA; where possible, suspect profiles may then be uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the federal government's lead agency for  forensic science research and development as well as the administration of programs  intended to improve laboratory efficiency and capacity, and facilitate training and knowledge dissemination. For nearly ten years, through its Office of lnvestigative and Forensic Sciences (OIFS), NIJ has administered and managed a DNA backlog reduction and capacity enhancement program designed to assist state and local units of government process, screen, and analyze DNA samples more efficiently. One primary objective of the program has been to afford labs the ability to provide timely Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) compatible data for state and national DNA databases despite decreasing state and local funds and increased demand for services. The Federal Bureau oflnvestigation (FBI) Laboratory's Nuclear DNA Unit (nDNAU) provides forensic biological services to the FBI and other duly constituted law enforcement agencies to support investigative and intelligence priorities through evidence testing using forensic serological and nuclear DNA methodologies. The FBI laboratory facility retains the resources, and capability to implement highly efficient methods of DNA analysis on SAKs.

The purpose of this Agreement is to leverage the capacity and resources of the FBI Laboratory to process untested SAKs that reside in state and local law enforcement agencies and operational forensic laboratories. NIJ will provide funding to the FBI to serve as a centralized testing laboratory, which will support state and local law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories in an effort to reduce the number of untested SAKs. In addition, through this testing program NIJ will collect information that will be aimed at identifying the volume and characteristics of untested SAKs, and the identification of best practices for the collection and analysis of SAKs. All eligible profiles generated from the analysis will be entered into the FBI' s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). In furtherance of this IAA, NIJ will leverage its relationship with the criminal justice community to disseminate project information and to solicit (from eligible submitters) untested SAKs for processing at the FBI nDNAU. Eligible submitters include law enforcement agencies and operational forensic biology/DNA laboratories. NIJ and the FBI Laboratory will establish guidelines for multiple submissions.

Date Created: December 15, 2020