RD419 - Forensic Science Board 2018 Annual Report

Executive Summary:

The Forensic Science Board is the policy board for the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (DFS). Pursuant to Virginia Code § 9.1-1110(B), the Forensic Science Board is required to submit a report by November 1 of each year to the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Crime Commission concerning: 1) new major programs and plans for activities of the Department of Forensic Science (DFS) and elimination of programs no longer needed; 2) policy and priorities in response to agency needs; 3) general fiscal year operational budget and any major changes in appropriated funds; 4) actions to foster and promote coordination and cooperation between the Department of Forensic Science and the user programs which are served; 5) rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purposes and intent of this chapter; and 6) any recommendations submitted to the Board or the Director by the Scientific Advisory Committee.

The most critical issue facing DFS over the past year has been the continued growth in Controlled Substances case submissions. The FY19 Budget included funding for six additional Controlled Substances forensic scientists, as well as instrumentation for the Section. This report outlines a number of measures taken by DFS to address the sustained Controlled Substances submission increases, including a request for additional funding, which was approved by the Governor in August 2018 and transferred $1,660,000 in funds from the DFS FY20 budget to its FY19 budget to increase capacity in the Controlled Substances Section. The additional emergency funding will support six additional forensic scientist positions, additional wage support staff, instrumentation, and the outsourced testing of Controlled Substances cases. In 2018, DFS was awarded grant funding, which it will receive in January 2019, to implement a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) project to increase the efficiency, without sacrificing the quality, of the analytical process in the Controlled Substances Section. The main focus of the project will be on increasing productivity in the Controlled Substances Section statewide to gain efficiencies in managing caseloads overall, and, in particular, to more efficiently address the opioid crisis. Additionally, DFS will be evaluating potential submission policy changes to limit submissions and testing, with input from stakeholders.

Pursuant to Code § 9.1-1110(B), the Forensic Science Board submits this report.