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2019 Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $499,865)

The Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories (CPFFCL) is a census of all publicly funded offices in the United States conducting forensic crime investigation. The goal of the CPFFCL is to provide a comprehensive understanding of publicly funded forensic crime labs in the United States, including but not limited to administrative characteristics of crime laboratories; policies related to data, records, and evidence retention; levels and methods of interaction with law enforcement agencies covering shared jurisdiction; changes in demands on crime laboratories and other emerging trends in the field. Historically, BJS defined these laboratories as those that 1) are either solely funded by government or whose parent organization is a government agency and 2) employ one or more full-time scientists who possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a natural science (e.g. chemistry, physics, or biology), analyzes physical evidence in criminal matters, and provides reports and testimony to courts on such evidence. BJS seeks to expand this definition to include laboratories that handle only digital or multimedia forensic evidence and that employ experts with training in computer science or information technology.

Under this award, RTI will design and administer the CPFFCL. The main tasks to accomplish this goal include 1) data quality assessment of the instrument; 2) expert panel review to revise the instrument as needed, including whether and how to tailor the form to different types of laboratories; 3) paper and web based version (with user testing) of the census form; 4) cognitive testing of the instrument and subsequent necessary revisions to the census form; 5) updated and complete universe of forensic crime laboratories, including different types of laboratories (i.e. the historic BJS definition and digital); 6) administering the census and collecting the data, including developing an administration and respondent communication plan; 7) conducting any necessary non-response bias analyses; 8) assisting BJS with analyses and publication; 9) end of study technical report for internal use; and 10) delivering a final, clean version of the data for public use archives.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined by applicable law


Date Created: September 21, 2018