Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $156,000)
The Washington County Sheriffs Office Forensic Science Unit (WCSO-FSU) continually strives to meet industry driven standards, but one of the main challenges they continue to face is a reliance on an outdated and inefficient manual operating system which does not afford a capability to decrease reliance on paperwork, and streamline processing procedures.
With an increasing backlog, impacted by a 187.5% increase in opioid related cases since 2010, the WCSO-FSU endeavors to leverage technology in order to implement a case management workflow that supports a more comprehensive and streamlined processing and reporting system, increases data management and networking capabilities, decreases reliance on paperwork, and results in more timely services. In order to meet the public's need for accuracy, accountability, transparency, and timely results, the WCSO is requesting $156,000 under FY 2018 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program to purchase a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for the FSU.
Additionally, a strategic goal of the WCSO-FSU is to complete all requirements in order to achieve ISO/IEC 17020 accreditation within two years of the start of the grant period. By obtaining and implementing a digital case management system and a dedicated server, the unit will replace a current manual system, which relies heavily on paperwork and a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, with a digital, systematic, and standardized approach to the examination processes. The FSU will gain capabilities in tracking laboratory generated items, maintain complete electronic records for case file documentation, and provide an electronic mechanism for maintaining comprehensive documentation to support and ensure compliance with accreditation standards. Furthermore, the technology would provide tools to improve workflow inefficiencies to compensate for increased demand, enhance quality and timeliness of forensic science services, increase the security of case information, as well as ensure authentication of digital evidence.
Anticipated outcomes of this project are to reduce reliance on paper forms and processes, standardize practices, support continued compliance with accreditation standards, and streamline workflow to increase productivity and provide timely service to our customers by reducing case backlog.
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