The FBI Selects Four Regional mtDNA Laboratories

Article excerpt

The April 2003 issue of Forensic Science Communications at www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/backissu/april2003/miller.htm announced a $4,000,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2003 for the FBI to operate four regional mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) laboratories. On September 30, 2003, the FBI awarded multiyear cooperative agreements to the following agencies:

* Arizona Department of Public Safety, Phoenix, Arizona

* Connecticut State Police, Meriden, Connecticut

* Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, St. Paul, Minnesota

* New Jersey State Police, Trenton, New Jersey

Regional mtDNA laboratories will partner with the FBI Laboratory to augment the Bureau's capacity for no-cost mtDNA analysis in forensic and missing persons cases. As laboratories become operational during the next two years, the effect will be to double the FBI's capacity to deliver no-cost mtDNA analysis to the criminal justice system. Cases will be submitted directly to regional mtDNA laboratories without first going through the FBI Laboratory. Designated service areas will function as regions but not necessarily on a geographic basis. Service areas will be defined as patterns of case submissions emerge during initial operation.

In May 2003 the FBI Laboratory notified crime laboratories participating in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) program of plans to competitively select partner laboratories. In June 2003 a briefing for interested agencies was held in Arlington, Virginia. Approximately 35 state and local crime laboratories sent representatives or requested materials. Twelve applications were received. A wide range of forensic laboratories applied, but selected laboratories share the following traits. They are statewide, full-service forensic laboratories, and they are accredited in DNA and trace evidence with established nuclear DNA and CODIS programs.

Cooperative agreements provide for the FBI to train and equip regional mtDNA laboratories and authorize casework that meets FBI quality standards. Partner laboratories will be responsible for mtDNA analysis, reporting results, and testifying, if necessary. …