This “In-Brief” Report from the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence provides an introduction to forensic genetic genealogy (FFG) for forensic science service providers (FSSP).
DNA evidence can play a key role in the investigation of cold case violent crimes and in cases of missing and unidentified individuals. Searching DNA profiles against the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a critical first step toward finding investigative leads; however, these searches may not always yield probative matches. When a search does not result in a CODIS match, forensic science service providers (FSSPs) may identify leads using FGG, a technique that combines traditional genealogy research with DNA analysis. FGG use is growing across the United States, but many laboratories lack the capacity to generate the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) profile required for FGG. As such, the U.S. Department of Justice has issued an interim policy that identifies third-party vendors as an option to generate the SNP profile and provide genealogical analysis support. FSSPs collaborate with FGG vendors to identify an appropriate testing strategy for each case, advocating for themselves through the FGG process. Understanding how the FGG process works is critical to identifying and prioritizing potential cases to use with this technique. This brief provides FSSP an overview of the FGG process and factors they should consider when evaluating potential cases for FGG testing. This brief summarizes information from peer-reviewed literature and conversations with various FGG vendors.