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How to Write a Successful Grant Application for 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 several opportunities that are currently available.  The areas of these programs that allow for STACS or Track-Kit software have been highlighted below:

Available Grant Opportunities

Below are grant solicitations that are currently available (as of April 2018 up to February 2019) 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. This page will be updated as new grant opportunities become available.

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)

Secondary Award – Applications due: April 3, 2019

A new secondary award of $12M is available for applicants that have demonstrated that their state has enacted “test all” SAK legislation as of (or before) Jan 1, 2019.

Please see pages 5 and 7 of the FY 2019 CEBR solicitation for more information.

Primary Award – Applications due: May 13, 2019

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 2019 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

National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) FY 2019 Competitive Grant

Applications due: April 9, 2019

STACS-CW sample tracking and control software and Track-Kit are eligible for Purpose Area 1 funding.

The purchase of STACS-CW and Track-Kit are permissible use of funds under Purpose Area 1 of the solicitation. In the section “Applicants may also request funds in support of the following activities:” Item 5 reads:

“Purchasing SAK evidence tracking systems, case management systems, or other technology (not including laboratory equipment) to enhance investigation and/or prosecution capacity in relation to cases as part of a holistic approach, as well as training on the new systems.”

Key points

  • FY 2015, FY 2016, FY 2017, and FY 2018 SAKI grantees are eligible to apply for additional funding through the FY 2019 solicitation.
  • Purpose Area 1 – In addition to testing previously unsubmitted SAKs, applicants may also request funds in support of the following activities:
  • Testing of SAKs and related evidence, to include outsourcing kits for testing and technical review of data/results, as well as tracking and reporting of performance metrics. If an applicant has already tested more than 75 percent of its SAKs, funding may be used to perform additional DNA testing including:
    • Y STR testing
    • Testing of secondary evidence
    • Familial DNA searches
    • Forensic genealogy searches
    • Phenotyping/ancestral analysis
  • Purpose Area 2 is specifically for small agencies with fewer than 250 sworn officers.
  • Purpose Area 3 focuses on the collection of lawfully-owed DNA from convicted offenders to help with SAKI investigations and prosecutions.
  • Purpose Area 4 is specifically for the investigation and prosecution of cold case sexual assaults. To receive this funding, applicants must clearly demonstrate their jurisdiction(s) has previously addressed, or is currently effectively addressing, the major issues associated with unsubmitted SAKs.

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

Applications due: May 20, 2019

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 Measures as listed on page 22 of the FY 2019 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.”