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Denver DNA Efficiency Improvement Project, Final Technical Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2012
97 pages
This report describes the activities and the outcomes of the Denver Police Department's efforts to improve the efficiency of DNA processing so as to address the backlog of cases requiring DNA analysis.
The improvements described produced impressive results, namely, the DNA Unit's saving of one full year of analyst time and a savings of $307,096 in costs over the past 2 years. The DNA Unit experienced a 228-percent increase in case submissions, largely due to the 2005-2007 DNA Expansion Demonstration, which expanded the use of DNA analysis to burglary investigations, as well as a commitment to solve "cold" cases with DNA projects. Using funds awarded to the Denver Police Department by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) the DNA Unit began using specialized software to create a simulated model of the workflow of the Forensic Biology/DNA Unit; subsequently, areas were identified for efficiency improvements. The project drew on employee input and a teamwork approach to identify and implement additional efficiency improvements. Using NIJ grant money, the laboratory hired a full-time project manager and purchased simulation software called Simul8. The project manager built a model or process map in Simul8 with input from DNA Unit personnel. One year of casework data were entered into the model, and test simulations were performed. This produced two important findings. First, instruments and equipment were not causing "bottlenecks" in the workflow, and increasing the number of instruments did not improve the case backlog. Second, an increase in trained DNA personnel improved the backlog and turn-around times to desired levels. Many of the solutions for the backlog cost little or nothing. The laboratory continues to use the foundation of the project to examine practices for additional cost and time savings, as well as to develop efficient workflow as demands continue to increase. 12 figures, 5 tables, 5 references, and 10 appendixes with supplementary material, including the simulation model and the employee survey

Date Published: November 1, 2012