Austin police are currently working out an agreement with the state under which the Department of Public Safety will take over operating the Austin Police Department DNA lab, KVUE's Tony Plohetski has learned.

The contract calls for the city to pay DPS $800,000 per year to operate the newly-named Department of Public Safety Capital Area Regional Lab.

This is a major step in efforts to reopen the lab, which has been closed since June when a state audit determined that employees were using the wrong methods to analyze DNA evidence, potentially jeopardizing thousands of criminal cases.

The contract will need to be approved by the City Council. A vote is planned for March 23.

This step would provide an interim fix while city and county officials try to find a permanent solution, which could including privatizing the lab.

APD still has a backlog of more than 2,500 cases awaiting DNA testing. Some of those cases are being sent to other labs. Once the DPS-operated lab is up and running, the goal is to clear that backlog by April 2018.