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THE FORENSIC DNA ANALYSIS PROGRAM B

Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?law/forenp11.law

July 1991                                                         

                                                                  
             THE FBI'S FORENSIC DNA ANALYSIS PROGRAM                           

                                By

                           Jay V. Miller                                   
                          Program Manager
             National DNA Index at FBI Headquarters 
                          Washington, DC.                                     
                                                                  

     DNA testing is one of the most significant breakthroughs in 
forensic science.  Applying DNA technology to the identification 
of individual biological specimens gives crime laboratories and 
law enforcement a new tool for resolving violent crimes and sex 
offenses.                                                         

     The FBI's DNA program covers four basic areas--DNA
casework, technical assistance, the National DNA Index, and DNA
and highlights the need for uniform testing methods as DNA
technology becomes more widespread.

DNA CASEWORK                                                      

     The FBI Laboratory, which began conducting forensic casework 
n 1988, is now the principal provider of forensic DNA testing
enforcement agencies throughout the country, conducting more
forensic DNA examinations than all other public and private
forensic laboratories combined.

     The demand for forensic DNA typing continues to grow as the
technique gains judicial acceptance.  Since 1988, DNA examiners
from the FBI Laboratory have testified in over 120 trials and
admissibility hearings throughout the United States. (1)  Of the
approximately 2,000 DNA cases submitted annually to the FBI
Laboratory's DNA Unit, about two-thirds are for rape
nvestigations and the remaining one-third involve murder or
other violent crimes.  Most cases submitted to the Laboratory
for DNA typing (or profiling) cannot be conclusively resolved
using traditional forensic tests for blood or semen.  However,
the results of DNA typing can be used to associate biological
evidence found at crime scenes with specific individuals, or to
exclude suspects.

     About 75 percent of the DNA cases examined by the FBI
Laboratory yield sufficient interpretable information to
excluded from consideration.  Significantly, about one-third of
the examinations performed by the FBI's DNA Unit have excluded
the suspect identified by the submitting law enforcement agency
as the source of the biological evidence collected from the
crime scene.

TRAINING, STANDARDS, AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

     The FBI Laboratory conducts DNA training and research at
the Forensic Science Research and Training Center (FSRTC)
located at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.  The FSRTC is
the focus of the FBI's efforts to provide a full range of
technical assistance to State and local crime labs working to
mplement DNA testing.

     The FSRTC provides classroom and laboratory training in DNA 
analysis methods, works to develop national standards and 
been working aggressively to educate State and local crime lab

Training

     Since 1989, the FSRTC has conducted 10, 4-week DNA courses
to train over 270 forensic scientists from State and local
laboratories.  In addition, the FSRTC has trained 29 forensic
technicians from 12 foreign countries.

     Following each DNA course, a few graduates remain for an
additional 3 months as "visiting scientists" at the FSRTC.
Visiting scientists work with the FBI's researchers to refine
existing DNA analysis methods and to assist in the research and
validation of new techniques.  A total of 29 forensic scientists
from 26 law enforcement agencies have participated in this

     In addition, a 1-week course on how to present expert
testimony in court for DNA cases is currently being developed
for State and local DNA examiners.  And, the FSRTC frequently

Standards

     As a Federal agency, the FBI is in a unique position to
DNA testing.  Still, the cooperation and assistance of law
enforcement officials at State and local levels is necessary to
create a national system.

     Toward that end, the FBI Laboratory sponsors the Technical
Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (TWGDAM), which provides a
forum for crime laboratories to discuss and exchange technical
nformation on DNA testing.  The TWGDAM committee was
established as a cooperative effort to formulate standards and

    TWGDAM is comprised of scientists from industry, forensic
laboratories, and the academic community, who meet several times
each year.  In its effort to build consensus and to define
for forensic DNA testing and guidelines for DNA proficiency
testing were subsequently published by TWGDAM.  Adherence to
these guidelines is often considered by courts to be a major
factor in determining the admissibility of DNA test results as
forensic evidence.  And, in April 1991, TWGDAM revised and
expanded these guidelines, in anticipation of the next

     Currently, 13 State and local crime labs are performing
forensic DNA analysis according to FBI protocol.  Most of these
laboratories are members of the TWGDAM committee.  An additional
the FBI protocol by the end of 1991.

Technical Assistance

     A survey conducted by the FBI Laboratory in 1990 measured
the plans and attitudes of State and local crime laboratory
analysis methods, training State and local DNA examiners, and
maintaining centralized files for a national DNA data base.  In
addition, the survey revealed support for the FBI Laboratory's
efforts to develop and provide DNA-related software and
automation tools to help State and local crime laboratories
establish their own DNA testing capabilities.

     The FBI Laboratory works closely with the law enforcement
community to advise on policy issues affecting forensic DNA
testing.  The National Association of Attorneys General, the
National District Attorneys Association, and the American
Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) have issued
testing standards.  In addition, ASCLD's Laboratory
Accreditation Board adopted a resolution calling for the
establishment of a Proficiency Testing Program for accredited
laboratories.

     The FBI also advises State legislatures considering
legislation regarding DNA testing programs, admissibility of DNA
evidence, and the establishment of State DNA data bases.  And,
the Laboratory frequently provides speakers to address
conferences and seminars on forensic DNA testing.

NATIONAL DNA INDEX

     The FBI is establishing a National DNA Index to enable
crime laboratories to exchange DNA profiles for unknown subjects
and convicted sex offenders.  The index will assist agencies in
against the file of convicted offenders.  The index will also
querying crime laboratory to the source laboratory when there is
a "hit" in the index.

     The FBI is developing computer software to automate the
functions of forensic DNA laboratories and to link State and
local laboratories to the national system. (2)  The software
National DNA Index.

     The system is being designed to ensure privacy and
ndex will store only DNA profiles.  When a match is made, the
two crime laboratories involved (the one conducting the query
and the one that originally submitted the matching profile) can
then exchange detailed technical information to verify the match
and to coordinate information flow between the respective
nvestigating agencies.  However, in order to guarantee an
effective system and to ensure that results are comparable, all
crime laboratories must use substantially the same methods for
DNA testing.

     The FBI is working with 10 pilot DNA laboratories (in the 7
cooperating States) to gauge the feasibility and operational
basic means for exchanging DNA profiles among laboratories will
the pilot laboratories should occur in 1992.

     The FBI will safeguard DNA profiles stored in the national

     1) The system will be designed and tested to protect against 
     unauthorized access.  Only crime laboratories that are part
     of duly constituted law enforcement agencies will have
     authorized access to the national system.

     2) Personal identifying information stored in the national 
     data base will be minimized, thus affording greater
     protection against unauthorized access that could yield the
     DNA profile for a particular individual.  Only the
     numerical form of the DNA profile will be stored in the
     national index.

     3) The FBI Laboratory is working with the National Crime
     Information Center (NCIC) to incorporate proven security
     concepts and procedures from the NCIC system into the
     design and implementation of National DNA Index.

DNA RESEARCH                                                      

     The FSRTC continually works to develop new forensic DNA
technology.  The Laboratory recently began research to develop
the next generation of forensic DNA analysis methods.  This new
a technique that multiplies the quantity of DNA material
obtained from crime scenes to a level sufficient for forensic
analysis.  DNA tests based on PCR will allow analysis of much
biological evidence from violent crimes.

CONCLUSION

     DNA profiling may be the most significant breakthrough in
forensic science since the development of fingerprinting.  The
FBI is working closely with State and local crime laboratories
to enhance DNA profiling techniques and to establish a National
DNA Index.  To ensure an effective and secure system, the FBI
Laboratory is fostering a uniform approach to DNA testing and
exchange DNA profiles for known sex offenders and other violent
criminals, providing a valuable new weapon for both
nvestigators and prosecutors.


FOOTNOTES

     (1)  As with all types of forensic examinations provided by
the FBI Laboratory, DNA analysis is free to any duly constituted
law enforcement agency.  In addition, the requesting agencies do
not incur any travel expenses for DNA examiners who must testify
n court.

     (2)  Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois,
Washington have passed laws requiring the establishment of DNA