Provides national data on publicly operated forensic crime laboratories that perform DNA analyses. Data are collected on personnel, budgets, workloads, equipment, procedures, policies, and data processing. BJS first surveyed forensic crime laboratories in 1998, focusing solely on agencies that performed DNA analysis. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded the 1998 study as part of a DNA Laboratory Improvement Program.
To begin this study BJS created a list of publicly funded crime laboratories that we believed had performed DNA analyses. The list of laboratories was drawn from several sources, primarily respondents from the initial survey of DNA crime laboratories, laboratories that applied for grants from NIJ, and laboratories participating in CODIS. Verification of laboratories contacts and addresses was done by telephone for a small number of these laboratories before the first mailing of the survey.
In February 2001, surveys were mailed to 135 forensic crime laboratories and state laboratory system headquarters. An electronic version of the survey, on a BJS website, was also made available to the laboratories so they could provide information using the Internet.
Laboratories were given until mid- March to return the surveys. Follow-up to the initial mailing continued for four months with a second mailing, phone calls, and faxes to laboratories that had not responded.
When data collection was stopped we had received 124 responses. Of those respondents, 110 reported that they currently performed
DNA analyses. The respondents that did not test DNA included State headquarters, laboratories in the process of setting up DNA analysis capability, and one lab that screened for presence of DNA but did not perform analyses.
We do not have information from the 13 laboratories that did not respond, but we are confident that a majority of those nonrespondents perform some level of DNA analysis. Including those with the 110 DNA laboratories that did respond, we estimate that approximately 120 forensic crime laboratories in the United States currently perform DNA analyses.