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How to Write a Successful Grant Application for STACS Sample Tracking Solutions

Grant opportunities from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) are released annually.  The application window for these grants generally lasts 6-8 weeks from the posting date.  After a grant application is submitted to NIJ for consideration, it goes through a formal review process, and successful applicants typically receive notification of award no later than September 30th.  Grant funds generally become available for use in January of the following year, though this timeline is subject to change.

While it may be difficult to predict your needs in 12 months when responding to these grant opportunities, careful thought and planning can help you to prepare a successful application and budget.  Keep in mind that grant funds can only be used for the Permissible Uses of Funds described in each grant solicitation.  By adhering to these criteria, you have a good chance of securing grant funding for your laboratory.  Below are three grant opportunities that are currently available.  The areas of these programs that allow for STACS software have been highlighted below:

Available Grant Opportunities

Below are grant solicitations that are currently available (as of April 2018) that your lab can apply to for STACS sample tracking (STACS-CW for casework labs and STACS-DB for database labs) and the Track-Kit statewide sexual assault tracking system.

The “Permissible Use of Funds” that applies to STACS DNA sample tracking software is explained below for each grant.

DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program (Formula)

Applications due: May 7, 2018

The purchase or upgrade of a DNA module, such as STACS-CW or STACS-DB, is identified as a permissible use of funds under the Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) heading in the current CEBR solicitation.  For the purpose of this solicitation, a DNA module is defined as “a sample/case tracking component separate from the laboratory’s LIMS that functions only for the purposes of the forensic biology/DNA unit. NOTE: The module may be a product of the same, or a different, vendor as the laboratory’s current LIMS. 

Please see pages 13-14 of the FY 2018 CEBR solicitation for more information.

Key points

  • The following ARE ALLOWED:
    • STACS-CW is allowed as it is defined as a DNA Module, not a LIMS
    • License upgrades to STACS software are allowed
    • Additional bar code scanners and printers are allowed
  • Current clients have purchased STACS software with CEBR grant funds in past years
  • STACS software integrates with any commercial and in-house LIMS
  • Computers or computer hardware are not allowed

Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program

Applications due: May 7, 2018

Under this competitive program, projects must align with one of five specified purpose areas.  A review of the grant solicitation indicates that STACS software may be a fit under Purpose Area 2: Building and Improving Laboratory Infrastructure (Competition ID: NIJ-2018-13802): “The goal of Purpose Area 2 is to allow agencies to incorporate new technologies into their laboratory or expand their operations to allow for the continuing demands for forensic analysis by providing assistance for laboratories to build or improve both physical and IT laboratory infrastructure. Building or improving laboratory infrastructure can include … the implementation of a laboratory information system or technology, with the goal of enhancing capacity or improving the efficiency of the laboratory.” 

Please see page 7 of the FY 2018 solicitation for more information on this purpose area, including a cash match requirement of at least 25%.

Key points

  • STACS-CW and STACS-DB improves the DNA analysis capacity of existing crime laboratories that conduct forensic DNA analysis by at least 20% for each analyst
  • STACS software reduces backlogged forensic DNA casework in crime laboratories by allowing analysts to complete more cases
  • STACS software improves the capacity of laboratories that conduct DNA analysis on convicted offender and/or arrestee DNA samples; a STACS-DB analyst can process 10,000 database samples annually
  • STACS-DB reduces the backlog of convicted offender and/or arrestee DNA samples by allowing analysts to complete more samples
  • STACS CODIS Upload improves the capacity to analyze complete cases with DNA and non-DNA forensic analyses by increasing the number of samples uploaded into CODIS

Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence-Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting Program (SAFE ITR)

Applications due: May 21, 2018

This grant may be used for the Track-Kit statewide Sexual assault kit tracking system.

Under this competitive program, projects may be funded that meet the three tasks listed in the solicitation. A review of the grant solicitation indicates that Track-Kit software from STACS DNA meets and exceeds the requirements listed under all three tasks: Inventory, Tracking and Reporting:

  • ”Task 1: Inventory. The term “inventory” refers to a detailed and descriptive list of articles or items (for purposes of this solicitation, SAKs) containing information such as, but not limited to: item identifiers, quantity, and location of the item.”
  • ”Task 2: Tracking. The term “tracking” refers to the monitoring and accounting of SAKs through the course, or path, of their movement from collection through final disposition.”
  • ”Task 3: Reporting. The term “reporting” refers to the task of delivering a written report to the appropriate entity within the prescribed time period and with the applicable data provided.”

Key points

  • Track-Kit provides a method to inventory all SAKs statewide (tested and untested)
  • Track-Kit tracks SAKs from the time of collection by a medical facility through to final disposition of the case
  • Track-Kit provides many reporting metrics which also include those in line with the Performance Metrics as listed on page 21 of the FY 2018 solicitation

For More Information

To discuss how STACS can address your laboratory’s efficiency, capacity, and backlog reduction needs, contact Tim Stacy at 1-877-774-7822 ext 2002.

What customers are saying about STACS DNA:

“Insanely high throughput with maximum efficiency.”

“There is no way we could process the number of samples we process without it.”

“It is essential to the job we do.”

“We would need more analysts [without STACS DNA software].”

“We’ve increased the size of our database by 60%.”

“STACS removes one giant bottleneck.”

“If people sit down and look at their process, they would understand STACS is the way to go to fix their process.”

“[With STACS DNA,] we were able to customize the program to meet our needs.”

“STACS DNA is willing to work with customers to solve issues that come up.”