The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) developed Rapid DNA technology under a prior Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program to provide family relationship verifications in the field, a capability that no other biometric provides. Rapid DNA is an innovative technology that reduces the testing and analysis time for Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) from the classical three to six months down to 90 minutes using a printer-size portable device. Rapid DNA also internally analyses the DNA profiles and with OBIM Store/Match/Share software can verify family relationship claims of biological relatedness (kinship). This has direct application to improving processes and reducing fraud in immigration, human trafficking/ smuggling at the borders, and for reunification of families following a mass casualty event. This SBIR topic builds on the established Rapid DNA capability, adding the necessary capability to provide for reach-back review of Rapid DNA results in an accredited environment.
DHS S&T has had a significant role in developing, overseeing, testing and evaluating the Rapid DNA technology and it is now commercially available and ready to be implemented. Better than 90% of the time Rapid DNA produces a DNA profile cable of supporting a match and the instrument returns a green checkmark. But the remaining 8% of the time, the profiles receive either a yellow or red flag and need to be reviewed. Some of these yellow or red flags are due to issues with the DNA profile that will not impact the kinship analysis and some are due to processing issues by the technology. Either way, DHS needs an ability to reach-back to a DNA analyst to review the DNA profiles and to re-run a DNA sample when necessary. The DNA analyst and the facility also need to be accredited so that the fielded Rapid DNA results and those of the reach-back capability are shown to be repeatable and accurate to stand up in court, if challenged.
The DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate (LSSD) has multiple regional laboratories and satellite offices for the processing of multiple forensic sample types, but does not currently have a human DNA laboratory. We are seeking any innovative/alternative solutions that would provide a reach-back capability for fielded Rapid DNA systems, anticipating that the developed solution would ultimately transition into the LSSD laboratory for long-term operational support to DHS field components.
The research into potential reach-back solutions would need to address the analysis of innovative or potential solutions to provide reach-back support for Rapid DNA, the interface an analyst uses to review and annotate Rapid DNA field results, the use of DNA data sharing standards, the accreditation of the reach back capability, location/staffing/costs for the reach-back capability, and the eventual transition of the new capability to DHS LSSD facilities.
Once the alternative reach-back solutions are proposed, a pilot solution would be developed to implement the reach back capability. This would include specifying and acquiring the appropriate technology, developing the detailed documentation to establish and maintain accreditation, researching and developing training materials, establishing performance metrics and risk mitigation recommendations and measurement plans, and addressing access and privacy protection solutions.