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Mayor Bowser Orders Corrective Actions at District's Department of Forensic Sciences

Monday, April 27, 2015

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a corrective action plan for the District's Department of Forensic Science (DFS).  DFS has halted all DNA testing and the District is in the process of identifying third party labs to support DFS' mission while the corrective action plan is carried out. The corrective actions come after the completion of two audits of DFS' DNA mixture interpretation results.

Last year, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia (USAO) first raised issues concerning the lab's DNA mixture interpretation protocols. As a result in January, USAO stopped sending new DNA cases to the lab. The USAO commissioned an audit and Mayor Bowser commissioned a separate audit by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to provide a third party independent review of the work produced by the lab.

Both audits were finalized last week and found similar deficiencies in training and review at DFS. Currently, DFS risks losing its accreditation as a result of problematic practices and procedures.

Following the USAO and ANAB reports, Mayor Bowser has initiated a 30-day corrective action plan for all of DFS' work.

"I am troubled by the longstanding issues at DFS as identified in the audits," said Mayor Muriel Bowser. "District residents spent $200 million to build a state-of-the-art facility and expect its work to be beyond reproach. Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue will oversee a thorough review of all forensic and scientific practices performed at DFS and implement a corrective action plan that addresses the USAO and ANAB's concerns."

The corrective action plan will include a root cause analysis of the deficiencies identified in the audits, specifically with the DNA mixture interpretation protocols.  This root cause analysis will include reviews of training, management and complaint handling.  Simultaneously, a similar third party independent review will commence focusing on each one of the other forensic disciplines within the agency, including fingerprints and firearms.  DFS scientific staff is currently engaged in a thorough, all hands assessment and are working to remediate the nonconformities identified in the audit.

Additionally, DNA analyses performed by DFS using the protocols in question have been or are in the process of being reviewed to ensure that there are no errors in those cases. The review will not stop the investigation or prosecution of crimes in the District.

Mayor Bowser continued, "We will continue to work with residents, the Council, the Office of Attorney General and our criminal justice partners, including the Scientific Advisory Board and Stakeholder Council, to make sure the lab operates at a level consistent with accepted scientific and forensic standards."