Unisys to revamp the FBI's DNA database

FBI’s CODIS

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Unisys won a six-year contract worth as much as $50 million to develop the FBI’s Next-Generation Combined DNA Index System (NGCODIS) which will include advanced database search and analysis technologies.

The current CODIS was proposed in 1990 and adopted as law as the FBI’s central DNA database in 1994. It has become a critical element in the FBI’s law enforcement and missing persons missions, and it is the backbone system for 178 participating laboratories at the state and local level.

The database currently includes profiles of about 3.7 million offenders and some 150,000 forensic profiles. The only other law enforcement DNA database of similar size is the United Kingdom’s National DNA Database.

Through August 2006, CODIS had helped in more than 38,000 investigations in 49 states and two federal laboratories.

Civil liberties organizations and other groups have criticized CODIS because of its potential to infringe on citizen’s constitutional rights. In addition to including DNA samples from sex offenders and convicted felons, for example, several states have begun including DNA from people arrested, but not yet convicted, for felonies.

NGCODIS is intended to expand the scalability and flexibility of the FBI database so it can meet the increasing demand for DNA matching, nationally and internationally.

In particular, NGCODIS will include what Unisys describes as a highly sophisticated search engine that will greatly accelerate the DNA matching process. It will also include an advanced analysis algorithm that more accurately ranks matches of unidentified human remains to those of potential biological relatives.

The contract is for a two-year base period with an estimated value of $11 million, a two-year option period and two additional one-year options.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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