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DOJ OIG Releases Report on the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative

Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of a report examining the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) management and oversight of its National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAK Initiative). The SAK Initiative provides grants to local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices to inventory, track, and test previously collected but unprocessed sexual assault kits. As a result of the SAK Initiative, grantees have identified over 136,000 unsubmitted SAKs and have tested more than 81,500 of them; more than 50,000 SAKs still await testing. The SAK Initiative has resulted in 189 convictions and 795 guilty pleas.

The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that the SAK Initiative has resulted in the identification of kits that have languished untested for decades and helped law enforcement provide justice to sexual assault victims. We also found that although the BJA’s methodology for awarding SAK Initiative funds was adequate, there were several areas for improvement, including:

  • Ensuring Grantees Submit Accurate and Complete SAK Inventory Certification Forms. The BJA lacked a quality assurance process to ensure the information being reported by grantees on the SAK inventory certification form was accurate and complete.
  • Improving Small Agencies Participation, Including Rural and Tribal Agencies. The BJA has awarded only $1.6 million of SAK Initiative funds to four small agencies, and no tribal agencies have applied for or received SAK Initiative grant funding. Additionally, we determined that the BJA does not track the number of SAKs inventoried and processed from rural and tribal communities.
  • Ensuring Site Coordinators Receive Adequate Training. Although SAK Initiative grantees were required to have a site coordinator responsible for coordinating communication among team members and ensuring that grantees are meeting the program’s goals and objectives, the BJA did not require coordinators to complete SAK-related training prior to assuming the positions.
  • Improving Violent Crime Apprehension Program (ViCAP) Performance Metrics Captured. According to BJA data, only approximately 50 percent of SAKs that are tested result in case resolution through DNA analysis and Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hits, leaving many cases unsolved. To address this issue, the BJA partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to enter sexual assault cases into the ViCAP database, which can link similar cases and identify potential perpetrators. We found that the BJA’s method for tracking investigative leads from grant recipients was not an accurate indicator of the number of leads being generated and potential suspects identified. As a result, BJA reported only 10 investigative leads, whereas FBI reported 158 investigative leads produced by the SAK Initiative and ViCAP partnership.

The DOJ OIG made a total of seven recommendations to OJP to improve the management and oversight of the SAK Initiative. OJP agreed with all the recommendations.

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