Inslee visits state crime lab, learns how Lean improvements decreased processing time for DNA tests by 20 percent

October 6, 2016

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MARSYVILLE – Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste visited the Marysville Crime Lab today to learn more about Lean principles that resulted in a sharp reduction of processing times for forensic DNA tests.

In 2014, the Crime Lab launched a Lean improvement effort to handle an ever-growing caseload of DNA testing requests. The DNA from crime scenes is evidence that needs to be tested by forensic scientists to either help identify and prosecute violent criminals, or to exonerate the innocent. Forensic Scientist Kristina Hoffman worked with staff from Inslee’s better-government initiative, Results Washington, to streamline the lab’s work.

Thanks to the improvements, the lab was able to cut 18 days off the average turnaround time for DNA testing from 88 days to 70 days. This was a 20 percent reduction in processing times. In addition, the backlog of cases needing testing was cut by 10 percent and staff overtime dropped 56 percent, saving thousands of dollars a year.

“Lean management is just one way we are driving improvements throughout state government,” Inslee said. “The improvements here at the crime lab show we can achieve better results and save resources”

“This type of innovation allows for agencies like the Washington State Patrol to more efficiently use our resources and deliver better customer service to our clients,” says Chief Batiste. “We are delivering accurate and reliable results to customers faster, which helps enhance public safety.”

The team made a number of improvements, including establishing a display board to track performance and creating a weekly team meeting to discuss schedules and caseloads. One improvement included hiring a lab technician to do routine quality-control tasks such as cleaning and instrument maintenance. This has freed up scientists to spend more time on their DNA casework. The lab also created a new case assignment system, simplified documents, and embraced newer testing methods.

In 2013, Inslee launched Results Washington to build Lean management principles into state government. Since then, state agencies have launched hundreds of improvement efforts.

The improvements at the Marysville crime lab are just one of dozens of examples of Lean improvements across state government. The changes have resulted in faster services, more transparency, easier-to-understand documents and savings.

Hoffman and her team are still testing out new process improvements to make the lab more efficient.

“We have a culture of continuous improvement,” she said. ”Employees are encouraged to come up with ideas to make the process faster and easier to deliver customer service.”

Additional information:
Results Washington reated a case study and a webpage to demonstrate how the WSP Crime lab utilized Lean to speed up DNA testing. The Washington State Patrol (WSP) took video and interviewed forensic scientist Kristina Hoffman giving a tour of the lab and introducing the Lean principals utilized in this project.

Media Contact 

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
360.902.4136