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Increasing Efficiency of Forensic DNA Casework Using Lean Six Sigma Tools

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2011
125 pages
This report details the effort by the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory (LSPCL) to incorporate Lean Six Sigma (LSS) practices in order to reduce case backlogs and decrease case turn-around-times.
It has been documented that the number of DNA requests received in public crime laboratories has increased such that backlogs exist and turn-around-times are extended. The Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory (LSPCL) saw a 22% increase from 2006 to 2007 and a 48% increase from 2008 to 2009 in the number of DNA requests submitted. The completion rate was not increasing at a rate to compensate for the increased submittals and eliminate the backlog of requests that had accumulated. In October 2008, LSPCL was awarded an NIJ efficiency improvement grant. LSPCL accepted the award in the amount of $600,000, consisting of a 25% state fund match. The funds were used to hire external consultants to conduct two Lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects, to purchase additional equipment to increase throughput, to validate robotics, and to add tools that facilitate a paperless environment in order to increase efficiency and allow trained DNA analysts to conduct scientific analysis as expeditiously as possible. LSPCL applied a multi-faceted approach to the problem, using the NIJ's Forensic DNA Efficiency Improvement Grant as a cornerstone to changes that have led to a 134% completion rate in the number of DNA requests completed in 2010. All grant goals and objectives were met, but more importantly, the process has been improved and the culture has been changed such that the LSPCL Forensic DNA Unit has substantially increased its operational efficiency. LSPCL's success has led to LSS projects throughout the state Department of Public Safety Services. While DNA is an ever-changing industry, foundational principles were developed and tools were provided to allow the LSPCL to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Date Published: June 1, 2011