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The FBI Research Partnership Program, Forensic Science Communication, January 2003

The FBI Research Partnership Program, Forensic Science Communication, January 2003

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January 2003 - Volume 5 - Number 1

Short Communications

The FBI Research Partnership Program

Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit
Laboratory Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Quantico, Virginia

Introduction
Benefits of the Research Partnership Program
Responsibilities of the Participants in the Research Partnership Program
FBI Laboratory Research and Development and the Research Partnership Process
National Forensic Database Development Partnerships
Forensic Science Research and Development Partnerships
Requesting Research Partnership Program Participation

Introduction

In 1999, the FBI Laboratory reengineered its forensic science research effort, adapting many best practices from private industry.   The underlying philosophy of this approach is meeting the scientific requirements of the examiner at the bench level.  Significant emphasis is placed on ensuring that each research and development effort provides clear deliverables to the hands of the case-working scientists in the shortest time possible.  The productivity of the Laboratory's Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit (CTFSRU), as measured by deliverables, presentations, and publications, has grown dramatically under this new structure. 

CTFSRU

1999

2000

2001

Deliverables

-

25

35

Presentations

39

33

51

Publications

9

16

22

As a part of this reengineering, the Unit solicits research and development requirements annually from the examiners in case-working and operational response units.  These requirements become the foundation and focus for the research program for that year.  In 2001, this process resulted in the identification, framing, and detailed documentation of more than 90 research requirements. Consequently, the Senate mark on the 2002 Federal Appropriation Bill contained the following language: "The Committee is aware that the FBI Laboratory has a long list of unfunded research projects, including proposals for new techniques to detect: (1) date rape drugs or metabolites in the blood stream, (2) latent fingerprints left by children, and (3) gunshot residue on shooters' hands and other surfaces.  The Committee recommendation includes $12,200,000 to fund the highest priority research submitted to the Committee on April 30, 2001."

This increase in funding provided the means to initiate over 47 new, high-priority research and development projects, for a total of 93 active projects in 2002.   This funding was also beneficial to the FBI Laboratory's response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  The Unit's spending plan for this funding was presented to Congress in February of 2002.  Subsequently, the Senate mark on the 2003 Appropriation Bill contains the following: "The FBI Laboratory's forensic research spending plan for fiscal year 2002 was very impressive.  The Committee is aware that the FBI Laboratory still has a long list of unfunded research projects.  The Committee recommendation includes an increase of $8,056,000 over last year's level to fund the highest priority forensic research proposals submitted to the Committee as part of the fiscal year 2002 spend plan."

Although this funding is specifically directed to address the FBI's forensic research needs, it also has enabled the FBI Laboratory to reach out to state and local counterparts with a new initiative, the Research Partnership Program.  This program is part of the Laboratory's leadership effort to improve forensic science by establishing strong, viable teaming partnerships with state and local forensic laboratories.  The intent of the Research Partnership Program is to maximize the impact of the FBI research and development funding by partnering with state and local counterparts when their research needs are in alignment with our requirements.  The primary goals of the Research Partnership Program are:

  • To enhance the transfer of new forensic technologies and procedures to case-working examiners in state and local forensic laboratories by collaborative research and development, testing, and validation studies.
  • To facilitate the implementation of scientific working group-defined protocols.
  • To catalyze the development of national forensic databases.

The Research Partnership Program is a collaborative teaming of FBI, state, and local scientific personnel for mutual benefit. It is not a grant program, but an opportunity to contribute to and benefit from FBI-supported forensic science research and development projects and database development. The FBI provides all funding and support for internal and outsourced efforts. There are two main types of projects:

  • Research and development projects that involve evaluating new, state-of-the-art analytical equipment and/or developing new forensic procedures through collaborative research and development, testing, and validation studies. These projects are offered as independent study classes to Research Partnership Program research and development participants.
  • National forensic database development projects that provide formal training in the latest scientific working group-defined forensic protocols and building and populating national forensic databases. This effort builds on the lessons learned from the FBI's earlier effort to disseminate standard DNA protocols and construct databases.

Benefits of the Research Partnership Program

To state and local laboratories:

To the FBI:

  •   Addressing the forensic community's research and development need
  •   Optimizing the return on research and development investment
  •   Implementing newly developed technologies and procedures
  •   Accelerating the implementation of new technologies in operational laboratories
  •   Training in scientific working group-defined forensic protocols and advanced technologies
  •   Using state and local laboratory scientists' expertise in research and development
  •   Participating in grassroots efforts to build national forensic databases
  •   Constructing new national forensic databases
  •   Technical assistance/guidance from FBI research scientists and examiners

 

 
  •   Publishing scientific papers coauthored with FBI personnel
 

Building a strong rapport between FBI and state and local forensic scientists

Responsibilities of the Participants in the Research Partnership Program

FBI Counterterroirism and Forensic Science Research Unit provides:


  •   All funding and support for internal and outsourced research and development and database design and software.
  • Personnel for research, training, testing, validating, and implementing.
  • Funding and support for the state and local scientists to participate in testing and validating studies at the FBI Laboratory.
FBI Training Unit provides:


  • Training on scientific working group-defined protocols as a prerequisite to participating in national forensic database development projects.
  • Credit for a research and development independent study class as part of the FBI's specialized training program.
State and local laboratories provide:


  • Personnel for training, testing, validating, and implementing database contributions.
  • Reporting on research and development implementation or national forensic database contributions.

FBI Laboratory Research and Development and the Research Partnership Process

The FBI forensic science research and development model establishes a sound foundation based on end-user requirements and maintains this focus throughout each project. The Research Partnership Program is an extension of this process. A close, collaborative relationship between the end-user and the research scientist is an essential element of success, as outlined below:

  • Requirements are defined by the end-user (the operational point of contact). The point of contact and an FBI scientist work together to define the requirements and outline an action plan.
  • Requirements are compiled for prioritization by FBI management.
  • Selected projects are executed using internal resources (FBI scientists and equipment) or are outsourced, as appropriate. Although an FBI scientist is responsible for research and development execution, close communication between the researcher and the point of contact is required throughout the project.
  • Upon completing the research and development effort, the point of contact becomes actively involved with the testing and validation studies.
  • The point of contact implements the results of the research and development effort in the forensic laboratory.
  • Clear, well defined, and relevant deliverables.
  • Short project time (typically one year or less).
  • Close communication between an FBI scientist and the point of contact at all project stages.
  • Commitment of point of contact to testing, validating, and implementing the research and development product.

There are several mechanisms enabling state and local laboratories to become involved in the Research Partnership Program. A research partner may submit a requirement for a need at the state or local level. In this case, an FBI scientist works with the potential participant to frame and scope research and development projects based on end-user requirements. These proposals, along with proposals to address FBI internal requirements, are included in the annual review process by which FBI management determines research and development priorities. A partner may request to join an ongoing research and development project. A partner may collaborate on a requirement to populate a national forensic database.

In the Research Partnership Program, scientists from participating laboratories work closely with FBI research personnel. Some research projects may be performed by FBI personnel at Quantico, Virginia, or by a reliable contractor. When the partner completes a project, participants actively take part in testing and validating studies at the FBI's Research Laboratory in Quantico, and when appropriate, coauthor technical publications. It is also the responsibility of the research partner to implement the new technology. For the Research Partnership Program national forensic database development projects, participants will travel to Quantico to receive training in scientific working group-defined protocols and to perform analysis on database samples. In addition to training and contributing to the database, Research Partnership Program national database partner laboratories receive the most recent version of the database and all subsequent updates.

Examples of Potential Research Partnership Program Activities

Participants in the Research Partnership Program may make valuable contributions to almost any project involving crime scene processing, collecting evidence, developing new analytical methods, comparing analytical alternatives, or generating reference databases. A few examples include:

  • Developing a new method for analyzing a class of drugs.
  • Participating in field testing under conditions and in locales managed primarily by state and local agencies.
  • Enhancing a DNA-extraction protocol.
  • Comparing commercially available DNA typing kits.
  • Testing a field kit for arson and explosives residue.
  • Expanding a spectral database library.
  • Evaluating a new developer for latent fingerprints.
  • Developing a more precise method of neutralizing an improvised explosive device.

National Forensic Database Development Partnerships

Many types of forensic examinations require the support of a large, up-to-date reference collection, preferably in the form of a searchable database. The FBI is encouraging the Research Partnership Program to support the grassroots construction of a variety of databases. Forensic examiners from laboratories are then encouraged to participate in the generation or enhancement of national forensic databases.

For a national forensic database development project, a participant will travel to Quantico, Virginia, for two to four weeks training in the scientific working group-defined standardized forensic analysis protocols. As a member of the national forensic database team, the participating agency would work with FBI scientists to assist in the collection and measurement of reference samples in order to populate the database. The Research Partner will receive a copy of the database and subsequent database updates. In addition to generating and augmenting databases, Research Partnership Program national forensic database development projects benefit the forensic community by promoting standardization of methods and protocols.

Examples of 2003 Databasing Requirements

  • Auto Carpet Fiber Database
  • Commercial Products Database
  • Database of Petroleum Background Profiles from Household Materials
  • Expansion of the National Forensic Tape File Database
  • Polymeric Libraries of FTIR and Py-GC/MS Spectra
  • Statistical Analysis of Handwriting Characteristics

Forensic Science Research and Development Partnerships

The Research Partnership Program was introduced as a pilot program to the state and local laboratories at the FBI's 2002 Annual Symposium on Crime Laboratory Development in St. Louis, Missouri. Interested laboratories were asked to submit their research requirements to the FBI.  Twenty-five state and local forensic laboratories requested to participate in the Research Partnership Program through collaboration in ongoing 2002 research projects or proposed 2003 research projects.

State and Local Forensic Laboratories Requesting Participation in the FBI's Research Partnership Program

Anne Arundel County Police Crime Laboratory, Maryland
Arkansas State Crime Laboratory
California Department of Justice
Colorado Bureau of Investigation
Forensic Laboratory Division ACCO (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania)
Honolulu Police Department
Idaho State Police
Illinois State Police
Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Laboratory, Indiana
Institute of Forensic Sciences of Puerto Rico
Johnson County Criminalistics Laboratory, Kansas
Kentucky State Police Division of Forensic Services
Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory
Maryland State Police
Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory
Michigan State Police
Minnesota Forensic Science Services
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Orange County Sheriff, California
Phoenix Police Department, Arizona
Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory
Santa Clara County District Attorney=s Crime Laboratory, California
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Missouri
Ventura County Sheriff=s Forensic Sciences Laboratory, California
Washington State Patrol

2002-2003 Research Partnership Program 


2002 Research and Development Projects (Active)

 

Development of a Precise Aiming Mechanism for an Explosive Device Disrupter

  • Maryland State Police
 

Automation of STR Analysis

  • Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Laboratory, Indiana
  • Institute of Forensic Sciences of Puerto Rico
  • Johnson County Criminalistics Laboratory, Kansas
  • Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory
  • Michigan State Police
 

Evaluation of a Commercially Developed mtDNA Control Region Typing Kit That Uses a Linear Array of Sequence Specific Oligonucleotide Probes to Assess Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms

  • Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
  • Phoenix Police Department, Arizona
 

Development of a Field Kit for Arson and Explosives Residues

  • Washington State Patrol
 

Refinement and Certification of the IR/ATR Explosives Library

  • Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory
 

Validation for Toolmark Identification: Manufacturing Methods

  • Minnesota Forensic Science Services
  • Washington State Patrol
 

Independent Validation and Verification of Statistical Model for Qualitative and Quantitative Aspects of Friction Ridge Identification

  • Minnesota Forensic Science Services
  • Orange County Sheriff, California
 

Interpretation of Shoe Print Defects on Worn Shoes

  • Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Laboratory, Indiana
  • Orange County Sheriff, California
 

Field Tests for Presumptive Detection of Gunshot Residue

  • Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory
 

Relative Discriminating Power of Visible, UV/Visible, and UV/Fluorescence Spectrophotometry of Dyed Textile Fibers

  • Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory
 

Analysis of Biological Specimens for Quaternary Ammonium Drugs

  • Institute of Forensic Sciences of Puerto Rico
 

Evaluation of Expert System Software for Short Tandem Repeat Analysis

  • Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • Illinois State Police
  • Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Laboratory, Indiana
  • Johnson County Criminalistics Laboratory, Kansas
  • Kentucky State Police Division of Forensic Services
  • Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory
  • Phoenix Police Department, Arizona
 

Bone Protocol Enhancements

  • Illinois State Police
 

Identification of Mitochondrial Control Region SNPs

  • Illinois State Police
 

High Ramp Rate Gas Chromatography with Quadrupole MS Systems

  • Kentucky State Police Division of Forensic Services
 

Raman Spectrometry: Safety Evaluation and Search Algorithm Enhancement

  • Arkansas State Crime Laboratory
 

Development of Rapid Field Methods for RNA/DNA Extraction from Contaminated Samples

  • Ventura County Sheriff's Forensic Sciences Laboratory, California
  • Washington State Patrol
 

Statistical Analysis of Handwriting Characteristics

  • Institute of Forensic Sciences of Puerto Rico
  • Michigan State Police
  • Minnesota Forensic Science Services
  • Phoenix Police Department, Arizona
 

Development of a mtDNA Typing Assay for the Luminex 100TM Detection Platform

  • Illinois State Police
 

Evaluation of Dye Terminator Cycle Sequencing Kits for mtDNA Analysis

  • Minnesota Forensic Science Services
 

Microarray Analysis of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms

  • Forensic Laboratory Division ACCO (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania)
 

Quantitative Assessment of the Accuracy of Fiber Comparisons

  • Kentucky State Police Division of Forensic Services
  • Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory
  • Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory
 

Effect of Latent Fingerprint Developers and Enhancers on DNA Analysis

  • Anne Arundel County Police Crime Laboratory, Maryland
  • Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory
  • Orange County Sheriff, California
  • Santa Clara County District Attorney's Crime Laboratory, California
  • Ventura County Sheriff's Forensic Sciences Laboratory, California
 

Detection of Pepper Spray on Clothing and Other Evidentiary Items that Contain Visible/ Nonvisible Residues

  • Ventura County Sheriff=s Forensic Sciences Laboratory, California
  • Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory
 

Identification and Neutralization of PCR Inhibitors in DNA Extracts from Biological Material Recovered from Soil

  • Anne Arundel County Police Crime Laboratory, Maryland
 

2003 Research and Development Projects (Proposed)

 

Robotic Platform for Automated Measurement of Sample Concentration and Preparation of PCRs

  • Michigan State Police
 

Spectrochemical Analysis of Questioned Documents

  • Federal Partner
 

Evaluation of Educational and Training Requirements for Full or Technical Operation of Portable/On-site Instrumentation

  • Anne Arundel County Police Crime Laboratory, Maryland
 

Improved Determination of Muzzle-to-Target Distance

  • Idaho State Police
 
Database of Illicit Drug Tablet Logos and Markings
  • St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Missouri
 
Database of Petroleum Background Profiles from Household Materials
  • Minnesota Forensic Science Services
 
Y-Chromosomal Genetic Analysis for Forensic Use
  • Anne Arundel County Police Crime Laboratory, Maryland
  • Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • Phoenix Police Department, Arizona
 
Analysis of Lead Projectiles
  • California Department of Justice
 
Detection of Ethanol-Producing Microorganisms in Liquid Blood Samples
  • Idaho State Police
 

Fingerprint Testing

  • Orange County Sheriff, California
 
Differentiation of the Optical Isomers of Methamphetamine in Biological Extracts
  • Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory
  • Ventura County Sheriff=s Forensic Sciences Laboratory
 
Evaluation of Near Infrared Spectroscopy for Screening of Controlled Drugs
  • Anne Arundel County Police Crime Laboratory, Maryland
  • Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory
  • Forensic Laboratory Division ACCO (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania)
 

Comparison of Fired Bullets and Spent Cartridge Cases

  • Honolulu Police Department
  • Washington State Patrol      
 
Comparison of Cartridge Cases Using High Magnification
  • California Department of Justice
  • Honolulu Police Department
 
Comparison of Bullets Using High Magnification
  • California Department of Justice
  • Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory
 
Evaluation of Two Gunshot Residue Nitrite Pattern Methods
  • Santa Clara County District Attorney=s Crime Laboratory, California
 
MS/MS of Fire Debris to Distinguish Pyrolysate Markers from Fuels
  • California Department of Justice
  • Santa Clara County District Attorney=s Crime Laboratory, California
 
Permanence of Friction Ridge Detail
  • Orange County Sheriff, California
 
Feasibility of a Method to Separate Tape Adhesives
  • Honolulu Police Department
  • Washington State Patrol
 
Colored Cyanoacrylate for Developing Latent Prints
  • Illinois State Police
 

Survivability of Latent Fingerprints on Improvised Explosive Device Components

  • Phoenix Police Department, Arizona
 
Digital Rejuvenation of Indented Writing on Documents
  • Honolulu Police Department
 

Visualization of Obliterated Writing

  • Honolulu Police Department
 
Investigation of X-ray-based Methods for Non-Destructive Analysis of Trace Evidentiary Material
  • California Department of Justice
 
Capillary Electrophoresis Analysis of Fiber Dyes
  • Kentucky State Police Division of Forensic Services
 

Requesting Research Partnership Program Participation

The FBI seeks additional partners from state and local laboratories to participate in the Research Partnership Program.

Instructions for participating in research and development projects

A Research Partnership Program workshop will be held in conjunction with the FBI's Annual Symposium on Crime Laboratory Development in September 2003. Research requirements from the FBI case-working units will be presented to the attending forensic laboratory directors and managers. At this time, agencies may sign-up to partner on projects of mutual interest. Requests to participate with the FBI with existing requirements will be coordinated individually. Registering for the Annual Symposium on Crime Laboratory Development is through the FBI Virtual Academy at fbiva.fbiacademy.edu (Note: An open section for the symposium will be posted in the summer of 2003.)

Requirements originating from state or local laboratories may be submitted at any time using the New Research Requirement Form.  However, FBI Laboratory management and personnel establish priorities for research and development requirements in the fourth quarter of each fiscal year.

Instructions for participating in national forensic database development projects

As sections become available, national forensic database development projects will be posted in the FBI Virtual Academy course catalog at fbiva.fbiacademy.edu. Participants may request enrollment in national forensic database development projects any time an open section is listed and until the deadline is posted.

For additional information contact:

Stephen T. Homeyer
Unit Chief
Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit
Laboratory Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Quantico, Virginia
703-632-4582
shomeyer@fbiacademy.edu


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