The No Suspect Casework DNA Backlog Reduction Program

Audit Report No. 05-02
November 2004
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix 2

Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

ASCLD/LAB: the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board is one of the organizations that provides accreditation for labs. The organization performs a thorough inspection of the laboratory before it grants accreditation.

Buccal Sample: a sample that is taken by brushing a swab or Q-tip against the inside of a person's cheek, so as to obtain cells that can be DNA typed.

Buccal Swab: a swab designed for the collection of a buccal sample.

CODIS Administrator: the person at each laboratory that is responsible for the administration and security of the laboratory's CODIS. The position can also be referred to as CODIS Manager or CODIS Custodian. The CODIS Administrator is required by the QAS for each laboratory with a convicted offender database, although all CODIS labs should have someone filling that role.

Combined DNA Index System (CODIS): provides a framework for storing, maintaining, tracking, and searching DNA specimen information. CODIS refers to the entire system of DNA databases (convicted offender database, forensic database, victim database, etc.) maintained at the national, state, and local levels. CODIS currently consists of three distinct levels: the National DNA Index System, State DNA Index System, and Local DNA Index System.

DCJS: the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the primary grantee for the Program award to New York, is located in Albany, New York.

DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA): DNA is found in almost all living cells, and carries the encoded information necessary for building and maintaining life. This encoded information is what makes each person an individual. Human DNA consists of two strands of molecules that wrap around each other to resemble a twisted ladder whose sides are connected by rungs of chemicals called bases. There are four kinds of these chemical bases, and the order in which they are arranged is called the DNA sequence. It is this unique sequence that is determined when a DNA sample is analyzed.

DNA Analysis: the generation of a DNA profile in accordance with national standards and validated methods.

DNA Profile: a set of DNA identification characteristics, i.e., the particular chemicals at the various DNA locations (loci), which permit the DNA of one person to be distinguishable from that of another person.

DNA Sample: a body tissue or fluid sample (blood, a buccal sample, or semen, for example) that can be subjected to DNA analysis.

Examiner (Analyst): an individual who conducts or directs the analysis of forensic casework samples, interprets data, and reaches conclusions. In other words, the analyst is the person performing the bulk of the DNA analysis work. The analyst's qualifications are governed by specific requirements as given in the QAS.

FDLE: the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the primary grantee of the Program award to Florida, is located in Tallahassee, Florida. FDLE also has regional locations throughout the state, with the Tallahassee location serving as the FDLE Headquarters.

FWPD: the Fort Worth Police Department, a co-grantee of the Program award to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

GAO: the Government Accountability Office, evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, issues legal opinions, and advises Congress and the heads of executive agencies about ways to make government more effective and responsive.

Hit: a confirmed match between two or more DNA profiles discovered by CODIS software at a single instant in time. In other words, a hit is a match between two or more profiles that the software finds when profiles are searched against each other. A hit can occur when an offender sample is matched to a sample from case evidence (forensic sample), when a forensic sample is matched against a forensic sample from another case, or a combination of these two.

In-house: any portion of processing and/or DNA analysis of cases or samples that occurs within the grantee's state by a state or local agency.

Investigations Aided: the primary measuring unit that the FBI uses to quantify the success of CODIS. An investigation is aided when a DNA match through CODIS either identifies a potential suspect or links crimes together, but only when the DNA match provides new information that would not have been otherwise developed.

Loci: the plural form of locus.

Locus: a specific physical location on a chromosome. Analogous to an address for a house.

National DNA Index System (NDIS): the FBI-maintained national component to CODIS. NDIS contains DNA profiles uploaded from approved SDIS laboratories.

NCPD: Nassau County Police Department Forensic Evidence Bureau in Plainview, New York. A co-grantee of the Program award to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Albany, New York.

NFSTC: the National Forensic Science Technology Center provides certifications of compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards. The certifications are not the same as laboratory accreditation but are still used as an indication of compliance by various organizations.

QAS: refers to the Quality Assurance Standards issued by the FBI Director upon the recommendation of the DNA Advisory Board. Quality Assurance refers to measures that are taken by labs to monitor, verify, and document performance. Two sets of QAS exist: QAS for Convicted Offender DNA Databasing Laboratories, effective April 1, 1999; and QAS for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories, effective October 1, 1998.

OCME: Nassau County Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Plainview, New York, is a co-grantee of the Program award to the DCJS.

Ohio BCI&I: the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the primary grantee of the Program award to Ohio.

Outsourcing: processing and/or DNA analysis that takes place by an accredited or certified state or local laboratory outside of the grantee's state as a contractual agreement between the grantee and the other public laboratory, or by a certified or accredited private (contractor) laboratory.

Screening: To screen a case requires a laboratory to determine, through visual inspection and/or preliminary tests, which case samples are most likely to yield sufficient DNA for successful analysis. Screening the cases prior to sending them to a contractor laboratory generally means that there will be a greater level of success during analysis in obtaining a DNA profile from each sample.

SDIS: State DNA Index System containing the state-level DNA records uploaded from local laboratory sites within the state. SDIS is the state's repository of DNA identification records and is under the control of state authorities. The SDIS laboratory serves as the central point of contact for access to NDIS.

TXDPS: the Texas Department of Public Safety, the primary grantee of the Program award to Texas. The TXDPS has laboratories across the state, with the headquarters offices located in Austin, Texas.