The Audit Division, Office of the Inspector General has completed an audit of compliance with standards governing Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) activities at the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory (Laboratory). The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) CODIS program blends forensic science and computer technology to provide an investigative tool to federal, state, and local crime laboratories in the United States, as well as those from selected international law enforcement agencies. The CODIS program allows laboratories to compare and match DNA profiles electronically to assist law enforcement in solving crimes and identifying missing or unidentified persons.1 The FBI’s CODIS Unit manages CODIS and is responsible for developing, providing, and supporting the program to foster the exchange and comparison of forensic DNA evidence.
The FBI implemented CODIS as a distributed database with hierarchical levels that enables federal, state, and local crime laboratories to compare DNA profiles electronically. CODIS consists of a hierarchy of three distinct levels: (1) NDIS, managed by the FBI as the nation’s DNA database containing DNA profiles uploaded by participating states; (2) the State DNA Index System (SDIS), used at the state level to serve as a state’s DNA database containing DNA profiles from local laboratories; and (3) the Local DNA Index System (LDIS), used by local laboratories. DNA profiles originate at the local level, and then flow upward to the state and, if allowable, national level. NDIS is the highest level in the CODIS hierarchy and enables the laboratories participating in the CODIS Program to electronically compare DNA profiles on a national level.
The objectives of our audit were to determine if the: (1) Laboratory was in compliance with the NDIS participation requirements; (2) Laboratory was in compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards (QAS) issued by the FBI; (3) Laboratory’s forensic DNA profiles in CODIS databases were complete, accurate, and allowable for inclusion in NDIS; and (4) Laboratory’s arrestee profiles were allowable for inclusion in NDIS.
We determined that the Laboratory was generally in compliance with those standards governing CODIS activities that we reviewed. Specifically, we noted the following.
We determined that the Laboratory was in compliance with NDIS participation requirements for the areas we tested with some exceptions. We found that the Laboratory did not resolve 4 of 15 NDIS matches that we reviewed in a timely manner and was not maintaining accurate records for CODIS users. In addition, to be in compliance with the NDIS policies, the Laboratory modified its policies for confirming matches from 30 calendar days to 30 business days and for addressing the release of information when a non-qualifying offender is involved in the candidate match.
We determined that the Laboratory was in compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards we tested.
Our review of 100 uploaded forensic profiles revealed that 11 profiles were not allowable for inclusion in NDIS and should not have been uploaded, 1 profile was miscategorized, 1 profile was mistakenly uploaded, and 1 profile was inaccurate. The Laboratory either deleted or corrected the profiles shortly before we began our audit field work or while we were on-site.
Our review of 50 uploaded arrestee profiles determined that 6 profiles were not allowable for inclusion in NDIS. The Laboratory deleted five of these profiles from NDIS. Subsequent to our field work, Laboratory management told us that they would remove the sixth profile from NDIS. We also found that the criterion used by the Laboratory to determine whether arrestee profiles submitted were eligible for collection was not completely accurate.
We made six recommendations to address the Laboratory’s compliance with standards governing CODIS activities, which are discussed in detail in the Findings and Recommendations section of the report. Our audit scope and methodology are detailed in Appendix I of the report and the audit criteria are detailed in Appendix II.
We discussed the results of our audit with Laboratory officials and have included their comments in the report as applicable. In addition, we requested a written response to a draft of our audit report from the FBI and the Laboratory. The Laboratory and the FBI responded that they agreed with all six of our recommendations. In addition, the Laboratory took adequate corrective actions to close three recommendations. The Laboratory response can be found in Appendix III, while FBI’s response can be found in Appendix IV. Our analysis of those responses, as well as the actions necessary to close the recommendations can be found in Appendix V of this report.
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is genetic material found in almost all living cells that contains encoded information necessary for building and maintaining life. Approximately 99.9 percent of human DNA is the same for all people. The differences found in the remaining 0.1 percent allow scientists to develop a unique set of DNA identification characteristics (a DNA profile) for an individual by analyzing a specimen containing DNA.