Federal DNA Database 

Interpreting DNA

Starting in October 2016, FDDU began to issue a new and smaller oral DNA collection device. This new collector allows for a direct transfer from inside the cheek onto collection paper in a similar manner to the current collection device, and allows for the possibility of self-collection by offenders. Detailed instructions for its use is included in the kits, and the FD-936 form has not changed. FDDU will continue to accept the old kits, so please use all the current kits in your inventory before ordering new kits.

What We Do  

The Federal DNA Database Unit (FDDU) serves the greater forensic community by aiding investigations through hit confirmations against individuals whose profiles are in the National DNA Index System (NDIS). Agencies submit blood or buccal samples to the unit 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 (CODIS).

These known DNA profiles are then searched against unknown forensic profiles from crime scenes across the country. If a match is identified, the casework laboratory can request FDDU to confirm the offender sample DNA profile. Once the profile is confirmed, the FDDU will then release the subject's personal identifying information back to the casework laboratory. This information can then be passed on to investigators in the hopes of apprehending the perpetrator. Thanks to law enforcement agencies and their sample submissions, FDDU has uploaded over one million profiles to NDIS and has aided thousands of investigations to date.

How We Do It 

A visual, step-by-step representation of the DNA sample submission and testing process used by FDDU.

Under the overall direction of the FDDU chief, unit operations effectively cascade across two 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-throughput 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, increasing throughput rate while consistently meeting or exceeding required performance measures.  

History of the Unit and Legislation 

FDDU was initially established in 2000 as the Federal Convicted Offender (FCO) Program as a result of the DNA Backlog Elimination Act. Expanding DNA legislation over the next decade significantly impacted both the scope and direction of the FCO Program, which began overseeing the uploading of DNA profiles into NDIS in 2002 and became its own unit, FDDU, in 2009. By July 2015, the unit uploaded its one millionth sample to NDIS.

Read more about major milestones in the history of FDDU and the legislation directing the unit's mission. 

DNA Kit Collection Instructions 

The current Bode Buccal Collection Kit, released October 1, 2016, and previous kits can be submitted to FDDU by following the instructions in the respective links. The letters “B”, “C”, “D”, and “E” referenced for the kit will be the first character of the kit barcode printed on the main kit envelope:

The Federal DNA Database has created an instructional DVD video available for training and education about our unit and DNA collection kits. These DVDs are free of charge; please email us at FDDU@ic.fbi.gov if you would like to place an order.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Forms/Samples

How can I order Buccal Collection Kits? How much do they cost?

Please fill out a Buccal Collection Kit Reorder form. FDDU provides collection kits free of charge.

Can I make copies of the FD-936 in order to pre-fill out the forms?

No. Each kit contains its own FD-936 and must remain together throughout the entire process. It is imperative to fill out the FD-936 form with the offender’s information during the time of collection to ensure that the correct information is transcribed.

  • Fill out the FD-936 using Dark Blue of Black Ink Only. Be sure to write legibly.
  • It is acceptable to electronically transcribe the information.
  • If an error is made while filling out the form or collecting the DNA sample(s), please dispose of the entire kit and begin again with a new collection kit.
Why do some DNA samples have barcodes?

Collection kits beginning with a C, D, or E barcode (found on the outside of each kit's envelope as well as the FD-936 form and DNA sample card(s)/device), contain a unique barcode and must remain together throughout the entire process. These unique barcodes are used for tracking purposes upon arrival to the FDDU and must not be intermixed at any point in time.

Collection kits beginning with a B barcode (found on the outside of each kit's envelope) will not contain a unique barcode on the DNA samples. The offender’s name must be written on these cards to ensure a match between the sample and FD-936.

Can I use a stamp or sticker for the Submitting Agency Contact Information section?

Yes, a stamp/sticker with the appropriate information is acceptable as long as it does not obstruct the box marked "For Official Use Only" and is clear enough to be read.

If I am from a BOP and/or Probation District, how do I fill out the top of the FD-936 form from the kit beginning with a B barcode? (this can be found on the outside of each collection kit)

If the subject is a convicted offender, provide the BOP facility code and DNA Sequence Number (unique to each subject) or Probation District code. If the subject is pre-trial and facing criminal charges, check the Federal Arresting Agency box.

If I am using the FD-936 form with a B barcode (this can be found on the outside of each collection kit), which box do I check if the subject is facing criminal and immigration charges?

Please check the Federal Arresting Agency box.

How do I fill in the Agency Facility and Agency Reference Information section in section 2 on the FD-936 from the collection kit with a C, D or E barcode (these barcode numbers can be found on the outside envelope or on the FD-936 form?
  • ORI (Originating Agency Identifier):
    • Unique to each facility and does not pertain to the subject
    • This is the 9 digit FBI NCIC identifier assigned to your agency; it is a combination of letters and numbers, beginning with a 2 letter abbreviation for your state. If you are not sure about your agency’s unique identifier, please leave it blank.
  • Facility Code or District #: Only for BOP, USPO, or CSOSA agencies.
    • BOP: 3 character code, unique to each facility
    • USPO: 4 character code, unique to each facility
    • CSOSA: CSOSA
  • Agency Code:
    • The 3-4 letter abbreviation of the agency (ex: BOP, DEA, FBI, ICE, USMS, USPO, etc.)
    • This can be found on the Agency Abbreviations Form included inside in the kit

Questions Pertaining to the Subject

I took the sample for casework comparison but used your kit and sent it to you. Can I get the sample back? What are my options?

The FDDU cannot return any sample. All submissions sent to the FDDU are property of the FDDU. Samples are not used for casework processing because they do not possess a chain of custody, making them inadmissible in court. Therefore, the FDDU samples cannot be transferred to the casework unit for processing as the Rules of Casework Evidence were not properly followed.

How can I find out if someone is in the database?

Please fill out a Sample Status Request form. The FDDU will e-mail you the result of your request to the email address you provide. Please note that we will only respond to inquiries from federal, law enforcement, or legal entities.

What do I do if the individual is no longer in my custody or at my facility?

If the subject is awaiting trial, the sample may be collected at a later date. If the subject is in custody with another agency, is at a BOP facility, or has been released from federal custody, document this information on the rejection notice and fax it to FDDU at (703) 632-7620 or email fddu@ic.fbi.gov.

I am from a state facility and I received a letter from BOP telling me to collect DNA from several individuals. They have provided your collection kit but I do not know what to do.
  • Please call the POC from the appropriate BOP facility to determine the BOP Facility Code and DNA Sequence number for the subject(s) to be collected.
  • Document this information on the FD-936 form. For steps on proper collection, return to FDDU’s main page and select the appropriate kit collection presentation to review.
  • Please call us with any questions on the FDDU main line at (703) 632-7529 or email fddu@ic.fbi.gov.

Rejects/Resubmissions

I received a Rejection Notification. What does it mean? What do I do?

The kit provided to the FDDU could not be accepted and will not be uploaded to CODIS for the reason stated in the notification that you received. Please submit a completely new kit for that particular subject to the FDDU. In the new submission, complete the kit as before while making sure to correct the error that was provided on the notification.

When resubmitting my DNA sample, can I just send in the part of the kit that had the error (just the DNA sample or just the fingerprints)?

No. An entirely new kit must be submitted from the subject to include the FD-936 form, DNA collection cards, and fingerprints on the FD-936.

My sample rejection notification says the rejection reason is “DNA sample cards were not labeled with subject name or alternate unique identification #(e.g. FBI#).” What does that mean?

The DNA collection card was not labeled with the subject's name.

  • For the blue Easi-Collect collection device:
    • This can be done by removing the DNA sample card(s) from the collection device and filling in the subject's name in the area marked "Offender Name"
    • Once complete, ensure the subject's name and/or unique identifier matches the subject's name and/or unique identifier documented on the FD-936 form
    • Place the DNA sample card(s) back into the collection device for collection
  • For the gray BODE collection device:
    • This can be done by removing the device from the packaging and filling in the subject's name on the handle base in the area marked “Name”
    • Once complete, ensure the subject's name and /or unique identifier matches the subject's name and/or unique identifier documented on the FD-936 form
If my sample got rejected for “DNA sample cards were not labeled with subject name or alternate unique identification #(e.g. FBI#),"
  • Can you just write the name in for me?
    • No. The FDDU did not collect the sample and cannot ensure the integrity of the sample. A new kit must be submitted.
  • Can you send it back to me so that I can fill it in?
    • No. The FDDU cannot return samples to agencies and/or collectors. A new kit must be submitted.
  • “I can assure you that was the only kit I did that day and that DNA sample belongs to that individual.”
    • DNA collection cards must be properly labeled with the subject's name at the time of collection to ensure its integrity. A new kit must be submitted.
I received a Missing Information Notification. How do I respond?
  • Please fill out the Missing Information Notification form with the requested information and fax it to the FDDU at (703) 632-7620 or email fddu@ic.fbi.gov. The FDDU can be reached at (703) 632-7529 with any questions or concerns.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Not providing the subject's name on the DNA sample card

The subject's name must be written on the DNA sample card(s) exactly how it is written on the FD-936 submission form.

  • For the blue collection devices:
    • This can be done by removing the DNA sample card(s) from the collection device and filling in the subject's name in the area marked "Offender Name"
    • Once complete, ensure the subject's name and/or unique identifier matches the subject's name and/or unique identifier documented on the FD-936
    • Place the DNA sample card(s) back into the collection device for collection
  • For the gray BODE collection device:
    • This can be done by removing the device from the packaging and filling in the subject's name on the handle based labeled appropriate area
    • Once complete, ensure the subject's name and /or unique identifier matches the subject's name and/or unique identifier documented on the FD-936
Not providing the subject's "Qualifying Reason"

When working with a B Barcode collection kit please check the appropriate box for the subject from which the sample is being collected from:

  • Check "Arresting Agency" if the subject is facing charges for a federal offense
  • Check "Detainee" if the subject is a non-United States citizen who is detained under the authority of the United States
  • Check "Other" if the subject has been convicted of a federal offense, SORNA, Tribal Authority, or federal offenses in US territories

When working a C, D, or E Barcode Collection Kit please write the appropriate letter in the designated box for the subject from which the sample is being collected from:

  • Place a "A" in the designated box if the subject is facing charges for a federal offense
  • Place a "C" in the designated box if the subject has been convicted of a federal offense or certain District of Columbia qualifying offense
  • Place a "D" in the designated box if the subject is a non-United States citizen who is detained under the authority of the United States
  • Place a "T" in the designated box if the subject has been convicted of a federal offense or SORNA under tribal authority
  • Place a "U" in the designated box if the subject has been convicted of a federal offense or SORNA in US territories
The tamper evident seal on the return envelope has not been properly sealed
  • Remove the backing and seal it evenly 
  • Do not moisten the envelope seal with saliva to close
  • If the kit must be reopened after sealing, tape over the seal and initial and date over the new seal
All required components of the kit are not submitted

A fully filled in FD-936 submission form, including the subject's fingerprints, and DNA sample(s) with the subject's name are required in order for the FDDU to accept the submission.

The DNA sample does not contain a sufficient amount of cheek cells to produce a full DNA profile of the subject

Please reference proper collection techniques from our three DNA Kit Collection Instructions presentations.

Links 

Contact Information 

For further information, please contact FDDU by e-mail at fddu@ic.fbi.gov, or alternatively:

  • By phone - (703) 632-7529
  • By fax - (703) 632-7620 
  • By mail - Federal DNA Database Unit, 2501 Investigation Parkway, Quantico, VA 22135