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Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program

This program assists existing crime laboratories that conduct multidisciplinary forensic analysis, including DNA, to reduce the number of items awaiting analysis to ultimately solve crimes and thereby help to increase public safety in the United States.

Demands for forensic DNA analysis have increased every year from 2009 to 2014, with a 28 percent increase in cases submitted to forensic DNA laboratories from 2009 to 2014.[1] The growing demand for DNA testing comes from two primary sources:

  1. Improved analysis techniques that have led to the recovery of DNA profiles from items of evidence from which it was not previously possible to retrieve such profiles.
  2. The increased collection and processing of DNA from crime scenes; victims of sexual assault; reference and elimination samples; arrestee and convicted offender samples as required by applicable State laws; unidentified human remains; cold case investigations; and postconviction relief efforts.

Often, a single case submission includes requests for forensic analyses in DNA and non-DNA disciplines. Enhancing capacity and improving efficiency[2] in the processing and testing of nonDNA evidence from cases that also involve a request for DNA analysis will ultimately reduce the backlog of DNA evidence. NIJ’s DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction program does not permit the use of funds for non-DNA disciplines. The Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement program is intended to help address that gap.

The program awards funding to eligible entities, through a competitive application process, with two (2) program objectives:

  1. Enhancing the capacity and increasing the efficiency of crime laboratories to process, record, screen, and analyze DNA and other forensic evidence.
  2. Decreasing the turnaround time to process and analyze DNA evidence.

Typically, projects funded under this program align with one of four purpose areas:

  1. Multidisciplinary analysis of evidence. 
  2. Building and improving laboratory infrastructure. 
  3. Implementation and validation of process efficiency projects. 
  4. Special projects.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to read carefully the specific solicitation under which they are applying as details may change from year to year.

The table below shows the total number and value of awards by fiscal year. Select any fiscal year to find information on that year's program and a list of the awards.

Funding by Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Total No. Awards Total Award Value
2018 19 $9,335,260
2017 20 $6,607,450
Totals 39 $15,942,710

New Program Income Policy

NIJ has issued a program income policy for applicants to and grant recipients of the DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) and DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Grant Programs. The policy includes updated requirements for submitting program income declarations, and governs program income management and reporting under these programs. This policy is effective beginning December 2018 and is applicable to all applications submitted and all grant awards active on or after this date.

Read the policy (pdf, 3 pages).


[note 1] 4 Durose, Matthew R. and Andrea M. Burch. "“Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories: Resources and Services, 2014.” (pdf, 12 pages) Bureau of Justice Statistics. November 2016.

[note 2] The Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program serves a different purpose than the former Forensic DNA Unit Efficiency Improvement program, which NIJ funded form 2008-2010.

Date Created: August 30, 2017