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Follow-Up— Sexual Assault Evidence Kits
California Has Not Obtained the Case Outcome Information That Would More Fully Demonstrate the Benefits of Its Rapid DNA Service Program

Report Number: 2018-501

Use the links below to navigate to the response and the comments:

California Department of Justice

February 19, 2019

Elaine Howle
621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re:       California State Auditor Report 2018-501; Follow-Up – Sexual Assault Evidence Kits

Dear Ms. Howle,

This letter serves as the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) response to the California State Auditor’s (CSA) report titled “ Follow-Up – Sexual Assault Evidence Kits: California Has Not Obtained the Case Outcome Information That Would More Fully Demonstrate the Benefits of its Rapid DNA Service Program.


The DOJ has reviewed the report and appreciates the opportunity to respond to the report. While the audit report notes several areas in need of improvement, DOJ maintains that it fully implemented the recommendation under consideration:

Report 2014-109, CSA Recommendation #4: To report to the Legislature about the effectiveness of its RADS program and to better inform decisions about expanding the number of analyzed sexual assault evidence kits, Justice should amend its agreement s with the counties participating in the RADS program to require those counties to report cas e out c ome information such as arrests and convictions for the sexual assault evidence kits Justice h as an a l yz ed under the program. Justice should then report annually to the Legislature about those case outcomes.


The effectiveness of the Rapid DNA Service (RADS) program has been demonstrated in the number of Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hits generated since the inception of the program and in the rapid turnaround that the program established for generating those hits.


DOJ did modify the agreements – Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) – based on CSA’s previous recommendation to incorporate the language to require the reporting of case outcomes.


DOJ’s responsibility for obtaining the information from local agencies was not specifically stated in this recommendation. The recommendation only addressed DOJ’s responsibility to report to the legislature on case outcomes. The reporting of case outcomes was incomplete due to a lack of input by the local agencies.


We concur with the audit recommendation that the Legislature require law enforcement agencies to report key case outcome data to DOJ. DOJ will continue to support this effort through the following activities:


DOJ agrees that there can be clarification and better training for participants who need to input case outcome information. However, because of program changes and responsibilities to other enacted legislation, the recommendations cannot be implemented without additional program support for DOJ’s already strained resources. DOJ’s program already maintains the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database, the CODIS Hit Outcome Project (CHOP) database, and the California Arrestee (CAL-DNA) Data Bank program, and it provides outreach and communication to local law enforcement who are in need of information on the arrestee program as well as supplies. In addition, program staff aid with sexual assault victim notification and questions related to PC 680, the Sexual Assault Victims’ DNA Bill of Rights. DOJ implemented SAFE-T and CHOP despite the fact that no additional resources were allocated for this via the budget process.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the draft audit report. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, you may contact me at the telephone number listed above.



for BARRY MILLER, Director
Bureau of Forensic Services

for Xavier Becerra
Attorney General




To provide clarity and perspective, we are commenting on Justice’s response to the audit. The numbers below correspond to the numbers we have placed in the margin of its response.


Justice’s assertion that it has fully implemented our recommendation is false. Our recommendation included that Justice should report case outcome information to the Legislature annually. In the years since we made this recommendation, Justice has provided us with copies of four letters it has sent to the Legislature in response to this recommendation, only one of which included any case outcome information. Further, on two occasions before the start of this follow-up audit, we reported that Justice had not yet fully implemented this recommendation because of its failure to report case outcome information.

Justice’s focus on how quickly its RADS program can generate CODIS hits misses the point of our original recommendation. As we described in our original report and describe again in this follow‑up report, CODIS hits are sometimes beneficial to sexual assault investigations, but sometimes they are not beneficial. We provide examples here of a case in which a hit assisted the investigation and one in which the hit did not appear to assist law enforcement in making an arrest. Here, we explain that obtaining information on the extent that hits generated by the RADS program benefited sexual assault case investigations and prosecutions is crucial to understanding the full benefit of the program.

Justice claims credit for amending its MOUs but, as we state here, Justice did not have MOUs with 23 of the 39 counties that participate in the RADS program, and Justice was unable to provide evidence that it had made any other effort to notify counties without MOUs that they should report case outcome information. Further, we discuss on here that for most of the counties that did have MOUs, Justice had not obtained signatures from some or all of the law enforcement agencies in the county. Finally, as we state here, RADS participants are unlikely to report case outcome information if they are unaware that Justice expects them to do so.

Justice’s indication that it was not responsible for obtaining case outcome information because we did not explicitly state this expectation in our recommendation is disappointing. We recommended that Justice report case outcome information to the Legislature. Our expectation was that Justice would make an adequate effort to address that recommendation—something our follow‑up audit determined it has not done. An adequate effort would include that Justice notify all RADS participants that they should report case outcome information, but Justice did not do so. It is perplexing that Justice would suggest that we should have made the expectation of adequate effort explicit. As we discuss in our report, Justice had an opportunity to provide key information to the Legislature that could be used to inform decisions about testing all sexual assault evidence kits. Instead, Justice made a lackluster effort to obtain that information and was therefore unable to provide it. Justice’s response to our follow‑up audit further supports our recommendation that the Legislature require Justice to take a more active approach to obtaining that information.

It is not clear to us how the activity that Justice describes will support its collection of case outcome information. Justice states that it will comply with law that became effective in January 2018 by compiling and reporting local law enforcement data related to RADS. We believe Justice is referring to a requirement in state law that it annually summarize information that all law enforcement agencies statewide report regarding the number of sexual assault evidence kits that they collected in the last year; how many of those kits they submitted for testing; and, if applicable, their reasons for not testing kits. Because this requirement does not include a review of case outcomes, it seems unlikely to support Justice’s effort to obtain or report case outcome information.

Justice indicates that it cannot improve its approach to obtaining case outcome information without additional resources. However, as we state here, Justice was unable to provide us with any analysis demonstrating that it lacks staffing or resources to conduct regular follow‑up activities to obtain case outcome information. Further, there are steps that Justice can take to improve case outcome reporting that are not likely to take large amounts of staff time or require Justice to build new capabilities into its CHOP system. For instance, we state here that automated messages generated through the CHOP system could increase the frequency with which RADS participants update case outcome information. As we explain on that page, Justice’s acting assistant bureau director confirmed that CHOP already has the ability to generate these types of messages.

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