Report Date

Published August 2020

Introduction

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.

Click here to read the full report

 

Additional Resources

Census for Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories: Resources and Services, 2014

Report to Congress: Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical Examiner/Coroner Offices

Se-

Read More Success Stories Here

Report Date

March 2020

Introduction

Crime laboratories are expected to provide consistent and high-quality services across multiple domains to criminal justice stakeholders, even though these laboratories may have limited resources and constrained budgets. Operational practices can influence the laboratory’s ability to provide these services efficiently. However, assessing the efficiency of these practices requires the ability to both track performance metrics over time and compare metrics with similar laboratories, which may be resource intensive. Project FORESIGHT is a business-oriented self-evaluation that provides laboratory managers with actionable insights into the performance of their laboratory. These metrics are broken down by investigative area and are based on analysis of a rich set of multiyear data from a growing number of U.S. laboratories. This success story provides an overview of Project FORESIGHT and how it brought value to two early adopter laboratories in the United States: Orange County Crime Laboratory and Denver Police Department, Forensics and Evidence Division.

“Iron sharpens iron. Project FORESIGHT is built on collaboration among peers, and enhanced with academic and economic support—it provides actionable and realistic data to assess how well a lab is performing.”
               – Bruce Houlihan, Director, Orange County Crime Laboratory

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Resources

 

Project Quadrupol: Development of a Benchmarking Model for Forensic Laboratories

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Project FORESIGHT Annual Report, 2017-2018

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The Jurisdictional Return on Investment from Processing the
Backlog of Untested Sexual Assault Kits

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The Hidden Costs of the Opioid Crisis and the Implications
for Financial Management in the Public Sector

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2019 National Opioid and Emerging Drug Threats Policy and Practice Forum

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Forensic Advancement: Just FORESIGHT on Sexual Assault Kits

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Drugs: Just Opioid Financial Burden on Crime Labs

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Workforce Calculator Project

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NIJ’s FTCoE and Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group

 

Report Date

December 2019

Introduction

Recognizing the many challenges associated with adopting new technologies and other innovations in forensic science organizations, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) formed the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG) in 2018. FLN-TWG provides a forum for which forensic practitioners and researchers can develop coordinated approaches to addressing technology implementation challenges for the forensic science community.

Housed at NIJ and supported by the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), FLN-TWG membership is comprised of crime laboratory directors or managers and academic researchers who meet regularly to share ideas, assess the impact of new technologies on the criminal justice system, and identify paths forward for implementation. The group’s mandate encompasses the full range of needs facing federal, state, local, and tribal jurisdictions; FLN-TWG is designed to clear roadblocks that have prevented broad, successful adoption of promising technologies.

This in-brief provides a summary of FLN-TWG’s goals and outputs of the first meeting and provides a list of programs and resources that can promote technology adoption by crime laboratories.

“I’m very pleased to welcome the newly created working group members and grateful for their willingness to take part in this important endeavor. I look forward to hearing their valuable input and working together toward strengthening the relationship between the Justice Department and forensic science practitioners.”

              —David Muhlhausen, NIJ Director

Click here to read the full In-Brief

Resources

 

ARTICLE: NIJ Supporting Crime Lab Directors and the Formation of the Forensic
Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group, May 29, 2018

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ARTICLE: NIJ Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group
— Opening a New Channel
to Improve Forensics, August 27, 2018

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Department of Justice Priorities, Forensic Science Policies, and Grant Programs

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