Summary of the Evaluation of Public Safety Canada’s Roles in Support of DNA Analysis
About the program
- DNA analysis is an important investigatory and prosecutorial tool used in the criminal justice system to quickly and precisely distinguish one individual from another.
- Under the 1998 DNA Identification Act, the Commissioner of the RCMP was mandated to establish and maintain a National DNA Data Bank (NDDB) which uses DNA samples from across the country to link crime scenes and identify suspects across jurisdictional lines.
- To support the effectiveness of the NDDB and the use of DNA analysis in the administration of justice in Canada, Public Safety Canada (PS) is primarily responsible for three activities:
- Negotiate and administer contribution agreements with the provinces of Ontario and Quebec through the Biology Casework Analysis Contribution Program (BCACP) to support DNA analysis activities conducted in their forensic laboratories and to encourage their collaboration in submitting DNA profiles to the NDDB;
- Negotiate cost-sharing agreements with each province and territory, excluding Ontario and Quebec, to partially recover costs required to process each jurisdictions’ crime scene DNA samples in RCMP laboratories and support the submission of crime scene DNA profiles to the NDDB; and
- Co-chair and provide secretariat services to the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) DNA Working Group, which is a consultation mechanism for DNA related issues and initiatives.
What we examined
- The evaluation assessed the relevance, design, delivery, and performance of PS’ DNA-related activities, including the extent to which these activities have been carried out efficiently and economically.
- The evaluation covered the period from April 2013 to March 2018.
- As the program includes contributions with an annual average expenditure of above $5 million, the Treasury Board (TB) Policy on Results requires it to be evaluated at least once every five years.
What we found
- There is a continued need for PS’ activities, which have contributed to the achievement of their established objectives: increased capacity in Quebec and Ontario provincial forensic laboratories to conduct DNA analysis and an increased number of profiles submitted to the NDDB (Figure 1).
- The governance structure was found to be appropriate.
However, the FPT DNA Working Group’s activities are largely focused on transactional matters with limited attention given to strategic priorities, despite it being one of the group’s objectives.
- Along these lines, there is a lack of shared understanding around federal partner roles and responsibilities with respect to policy in support of DNA analysis.
- While the design and delivery of the contribution agreements conform for the most part to the requirements of the TB Policy on Transfer Payments, financial and performance reporting requirements could be further streamlined.
- The program has been managed with limited resources; however, a number of administrative challenges and inefficiencies occurred during the period under review which created increased administrative burden on both the Department and the recipients. Factors contributing to these challenges included a lack of dedicated program management experience/expertise, high staff turnover, and inconsistent record keeping.
The graph represents the number of DNA profiles contained in NDDB by year from 2013-14 to 2017-18. These numbers are further broken down to show the number of profiles housed within the Crime Scene Index (CSI) and Convicted Offender Index (COI) of the NDDB for the period under review. The total number of profiles has increased consistently each year for both indices. Overall, the total number of DNA profiles contained in the National DNA Databank has increased from 382,906 in 2013-14 to 509,528 in 2017-18.
The Assistant Deputy Minister of the Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch should:
- Clarify and formally communicate the role of Public Safety with respect to policy in support of DNA analysis.
- In consultation with FPT stakeholders, clarify the role of the DNA Working Group and ensure the DNA Working Group fulfills its objectives, as stated in its Terms of Reference.
- Work with Public Safety’s Grants and Contributions Centre of Expertise to implement sound and timely processes/practices for the administration of the Biology Casework Analysis Contribution Program (BCACP), including reporting requirements that are proportionate to the current risk profile, and documenting key decisions.
- Date modified: