Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2001-02 Budget Bill

Department of Justice (0820)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) operates ten criminalistics laboratories throughout the state. The laboratories provide analysis of physical evidence and controlled substances and, when requested, assist local law enforcement agencies in processing and analyzing crime scenes (including clandestine drug laboratories). The department also operates a state DNA analysis laboratory in Berkeley.

The 2001-02 Governor's Budget includes nearly $16 million from the General Fund for the Department of Justice to construct a new state DNA laboratory ($15 million) and a fire suppression system at the Hawkins Data Center ($933,000).

No Justification for New DNA Laboratory

We recommend the Legislature delete $15 million from the General Fund for design and construction of a new DNA analysis laboratory because no information has been provided to justify the need for a new laboratory. (Delete $15 million under Item 0820-301-0001 [2].)

The Governor's budget includes a request for $15 million from the General Fund for site acquisition, preliminary plans, working drawings, and construction of a new DNA laboratory for the department. No information is available regarding the need, location, cost, schedule, or scope of work for a new laboratory. The administration apparently also has little information since it has included budget bill language specifying that a site selection panel—the Attorney General and Directors of Finance and Corrections—will determine the most appropriate location.

In addition, there is no information regarding workload, the need for additional analysis capabilities, or why the existing Berkeley Laboratory is insufficient. The Legislature has authorized $78 million over the last five years for various phases of acquisition, design, and construction of seven forensic laboratories across the state. At least three of these facilities, when completed, will have DNA analysis laboratories. This new DNA analysis capability, coupled with the Berkeley Laboratory and other DNA laboratories (such as county facilities), should be considered when evaluating the need for a new laboratory.

Given the lack of information on this project, we recommend the Legislature delete $15 million under Item 0820-301-0001 (2).

Return to Capital Outlay Table of Contents, 2001-02 Budget Analysis