NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is hoping a federal grant will help alleviate the backlog of rape kits in the state.

Thanks to $1.5 million in federal grant funding, the state is now outsourcing the processing of hundreds of rape kits.

On Monday, the TBI flew an initial set of 550 rape kits to DNA Lab International (DLI), based in Deerfield Beach, Florida. That number included 250 from the Jackson Crime Laboratory, 250 from Knoxville and 50 from Nashville.

“We are thankful to our partners for awarding us this funding to help the Bureau take a major step forward in our efforts to analyze these kits,” said Mike Lyttle, assistant director of TBI’s Forensic Services Division. “We’re confident this is the right step forward.”

DLI was awarded the contract to process these kits following a bidding process. As part of their agreement, DLI will also provide analysis and any related courtroom testimony.

However, in line with FBI guidelines, TBI scientists must review the results of analysis for each kit and if warranted, enter resulting DNA profiles into CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System.

While legislators see this as a step forward, some also say this should not wholly replace Tennessee’s ability to process these kits in-state.

“I think whatever we can do to speed up the processing the better,” said Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) in a statement to News 2. “However, we need to ramp up our own ability to test these kits.”

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The TBI has plans to submit up to 1,000 kits for private analysis if more grant funding becomes available by the end of the year. The processing comes at a rate of $2,155 per kit.