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 Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Crime Laboratory - El Paso (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) National DNA Index System (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 compare DNA profiles electronically 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; and (3) Laboratory’s forensic DNA profiles in CODIS databases were complete, accurate, and allowable for inclusion in NDIS.
We determined that the Laboratory was generally in compliance with those standards governing CODIS activities that we reviewed. However, we noted one exception during our review. Specifically, we noted the following.
- We determined that the Laboratory was in compliance with NDIS participation requirements for the areas we reviewed.
- We determined that the Laboratory was in compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards we tested.
- Our review of 100 uploaded forensic profiles revealed 14 profiles that were not allowable for inclusion in NDIS. The Laboratory deleted these 14 profiles either shortly before we began our audit fieldwork or while we were on site.
The results of our audit are discussed in detail in the Findings 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 report from the FBI and the Laboratory. We made no recommendations and the FBI and the Laboratory made no comments. The Laboratory response can be found in Appendix III, while the FBI’s response can be found in Appendix IV. Appendix V states that the report was issued closed.
- 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.