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DNA—Federal DNA Database Unit (FDDU)

DNA—Federal DNA Database Unit (FDDU) Homepage

DNA—Federal DNA Database Unit (FDDU)


The Federal DNA Database Unit (FDDU) functions to analyze the Core CODIS loci DNA markers from buccal and blood samples of federal convicted offenders, arrestees facing federal charges, individuals convicted of certain District of Columbia offenses, as well as non-U.S. citizens detained under the authority of the United States of America, for development of DNA profiles that are uploaded to the National DNA Index System (NDIS).

The Team

Unit chief, forensic examiners, biologists, management and program analysts, DNA technical specialists, DNA program specialists, and contractors

What We Do

FDDU serves the greater forensic community by aiding investigations through hit confirmations against individuals whose profiles are in the NDIS. Agencies submit blood or buccal samples to FDDU from individuals who are required by law to do so. These include individuals convicted of, arrested for, or facing charges of certain qualifying federal crimes or convicted of qualifying District of Columbia offenses, as well as non-U.S. citizens who are detained under the authority of the United States. FDDU then produces a DNA profile for each of these individuals and uploads it to the NDIS, which is part of the Combined DNA Index System. NDIS participating casework laboratories are able to search their approved questioned samples against the NDIS. If a hit occurs between the casework sample and one of our offenders, the casework laboratory can request FDDU to confirm the offender sample DNA profile. After the confirmation of the offender sample DNA profile, FDDU will release a hit letter that includes information about the offender, including the name and last known whereabouts, to the casework laboratory to be used as an investigative aid in the agency’s case.

How We Do It

Under the overall direction of the FDDU chief, unit operations effectively cascade across four supervisors and are guided by their respective management of integral program teams. A team of accessioning scientists handle the initial triage of submissions into the unit, inventorying samples, inputting specimen data, and preparing specimens for the beginning stages of testing. A team of laboratory scientists apply robotic processing stations and high-throughput instrumentation to generate DNA typing results from samples within days of sample acceptance. A team of reporting scientists interprets the resulting DNA profiles, approve data for upload, and author correspondence to casework laboratories regarding database associations confirmed between FDDU specimen DNA profiles and corresponding evidentiary DNA profiles.

On a compliance level, the FDDU is supported by teams of DNA technical specialists and DNA program specialists, who have critical responsibilities within the unit for ensuring the quality assurance and quality control of analytical testing, as well as conformance of database operations with established procedural requirements.

Administratively, the unit is supported by a team of management and program analysts with responsibilities for budgetary execution, procurement, inventory, and logistical applications. The unit relies heavily upon an information technology team to support the unit network and overall infrastructure backbone that drives the various operational applications.

From a technology perspective, a DNA Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is critical for the automated development of specimen works lists, controlling the stepwise progression of each sample through the entire analytical process. The FDDU utilizes robotic systems in the laboratory to achieve high-through put processing, allowing for a day-through-evening uninterrupted workflow without human intervention, permitting maximum operational efficiency. A sophisticated software analysis tool (Expert System) permits an automated review of resulting DNA data with a reduced level of scientist intervention, with an increased throughput rate while consistently meeting or exceeding required performance measures.  

In FY 2012, the FDDU accepted, and correspondingly uploaded to NDIS, more than 92,000 submissions collectively from federal conviction/probation, arrest, and detainment agencies. An overall average processing rate of 22 days per sample was achieved, from unit acceptance to NDIS entry during FY 2012, with resulting database associations which supported more than 1,000 investigations.

The Future

As federal legislation in recent years has increased the number of qualifying offenses for DNA submission, FDDU has expanded its personnel, robotic systems, and technology to meet the demands of its mission.


Contact Information

For further information, please contact FDDU at
(703) 632-7529 or write to us at:

Federal DNA Database Unit
2501 Investigation Parkway
Quantico, VA 22135