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The Combined DNA Index System

Report No. 01-26
September 17, 2001
Office of the Inspector General


During the course of this audit, we considered the possibility of the FBI charging user fees for the use of CODIS software, which is currently provided free of charge to both domestic and foreign laboratories. The FBI has the authority to charge nonfederal agencies for use of the CODIS software under 31 U.S.C. 9701 (b). In addition to domestic laboratories, there were 26 laboratories in 12 foreign countries 9 using the CODIS software as of March 2001. 10 According to FBI officials, the FBI does not charge domestic or foreign laboratories a CODIS user fee because:

For example, FBI officials stated that the FBI depends on maintaining a cooperative working relationship with foreign law enforcement agencies as it investigates major international crime cases such as the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In addition, according to FBI officials, the FBI has received valuable technology and information from foreign laboratories at no cost, including the receipt of forensic material database information and software from Canada and crime scene imaging and documentation software from Italy. FBI officials believe that the FBI would have had to spend substantial amounts of money to develop its own software for these systems. Ultimately, FBI officials believe that the FBI receives a greater benefit by sharing technology with foreign laboratories than it would by charging foreign laboratories an annual CODIS user fee.

Based on our analysis of cost recovery opportunities, and taking into account the overall cost/benefit to the Department, we do not believe a CODIS user fee to be worth pursuing at this time.


  1. The 12 foreign countries are Australia, Belgium, Canada, China (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), Denmark, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

  2. The FBI provides software, training, standard maintenance, and technical assistance to these foreign laboratories free of charge. However, foreign laboratories are required to pay for the travel costs associated with the on-site installation of the software at the laboratory and for the travel costs associated with laboratory personnel that are sent to the United States for training.