A Landscape Study of Laboratory Information Management Systems for Forensic Crime Laboratories

A Landscape Study of Laboratory Information Management Systems for Forensic Crime Laboratories


August 2020


As a key stakeholder in the criminal justice system, forensic laboratories must track, analyze, and report on evidence related to each request for service they receive. This is no easy task for laboratories: according to a 2014 survey by the Department of Justice, publicly funded crime laboratories received nearly 3.8 million requests for forensic services, with an average of 93,000 requests per laboratory.[1] The high number of caseloads necessitate the use of technology to ensure integrity of evidence is maintained and laboratories are operating efficiently. Laboratory information management system (LIMS) were developed to solve many of these challenges. LIMS is a database management system (DBMS) that collects, creates, and stores all data related to forensic examinations in a crime laboratory. LIMS enables the forensic laboratory to efficiently manage evidence and resources and can be scaled to meet the demands of federal, state, county, and municipal laboratories.

This landscape report provides crime laboratory directors, crime laboratory personnel, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders and end users with the following:

  • Background information on LIMS and their integration into the laboratory evidence management process
  • The product landscape of select commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) LIMS products
  • Considerations for implementing or updating internally developed and COTS LIMS
  • Use profiles from end users illustrating best practices and lessons learned from incorporating a LIMS into the laboratory workflow.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence report was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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