Leveraging Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) to Maintain Continuity of Operations: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Leveraging Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) to Maintain Continuity of Operations: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic


January 2021


In response to 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, forensic crime laboratories have changed their business operations to ensure responsiveness to their customers’ needs while protecting staff welfare and data security. This balance has challenged laboratory management to address the following questions:

  • How do we make necessary in-person laboratory work safer for staff?
  • How do we enable staff to work on casework remotely and securely?
  • How do we serve our customers efficiently during a global pandemic or a similar type of short or long-term critical incident?

As one of the primary software systems used by crime laboratories, Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), a program that collects, creates, and stores all data related to forensic examinations, is a critical tool to leverage in response to COVID-19–induced realities. This report considers using LIMS features to help a laboratory adjust to operating in a pandemic based on the experiences of managers and leadership of five crime laboratories around the United States, including three federal crime laboratories (DEA, ICE-HSI, USSS), one state laboratory (Arizona), and one city laboratory (Houston).

“With more staff working from home, we needed to take advantage of LIMS functionalities previously underutilized.”

- Peter Stout | President & CEO, Houston Forensic Science Center

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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