The hidden costs of the opioid crisis and the implications for financial management in the public sector

The hidden costs of the opioid crisis and the implications for financial management in the public sector


Forensic Science International: Synergy, September 2019


Jeri D. Ropero-Miller | RTI International
Paul J. Speaker | John Chambers College of Business & Economics


The November 2017 release of the Council of Economic Advisers’ White House report on the opioid crisis suggests that prior consideration of expenses severely underestimated the economic costs of the opioid crisis. When corrected for these losses, the annual cost from the opioid crisis leapt nearly 600%. The cost to the criminal justice system was estimated at $8 Billion of which $270 million is borne by crime laboratories. However, laboratory budgets have not grown at a rate capable of meeting this increased demand for forensic science services. The hidden costs of the opioid crisis borne by the forensic crime laboratories comes as funds are diverted in the laboratory to meet the increased demands for services in drug chemistry and toxicology. Dramatic increases in turnaround times across other areas of investigation continue to grow as the crisis accelerates.

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

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

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