Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002 and 2005 (ICPSR 23120)

Published: Oct 24, 2008

Principal Investigator(s):
United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics



Version V1

This data collection contains data from censuses of publicly funded crime laboratories in 2002 and 2005. The data were collected to examine change and stability in the operations of crime laboratories serving federal, state, and local jurisdictions. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (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 its DNA Laboratory Improvement Program. The BJS' National Study of DNA Laboratories was repeated in 2001. An expanded version of the data collection, called the Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, was first conducted among all forensic crime laboratories in 2002. Data were collected from 2003 to 2004 on the organization, functions, budget, staffing, workload, and performance expectations of the nation's forensic crime laboratories operating in 2002. A total of 306 of the 351 crime laboratories operating in 2002 responded to the census. The latest census obtained data from 351 of the 389 laboratories operating in 2005, including at least 1 laboratory from every state. The nation's publicly funded forensic crime laboratories performed a variety of forensic services in 2005, including DNA testing and controlled substance identification for federal, state, and local jurisdictions. The 2005 Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories obtained detailed information on the types of forensic requests received by these laboratories and the resources needed to complete them. The census also collected data on crime laboratory budgets, personnel, accreditations, and backlogged cases.

United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002 and 2005. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-10-24. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR23120.v1

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics (2002-BJ-CX-K011)

United States



2003 -- 2004

2006 -- 2007

The study was conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Data in both files were reformatted for best fit.

No sampling was done because all available crime laboratories operating in the United States were contacted. BJS awarded a grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to undertake the census. UIC partnered with the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) and the UIC Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) to administer the census. The survey instrument was designed by project staff with input from BJS staff and the ASCLD advisory committee. The survey was pre-tested with 10 laboratories representing different-sized facilities. ASCLD provided UIC with a mailing list of 469 facilities that self-identified as crime laboratories. Advance letters were mailed to all laboratories followed by telephone screening. A total of 39 laboratories were removed from the list because callers either determined the facility was not a crime laboratory, was a duplicate listing, or contained faulty contact information. Following the initial mailing of 430 surveys and a second round, 218 facilities completed the survey. Twelve labs were determined to be ineligible. Following extensive follow-up efforts, it was discovered that the list contained many facilities that did not meet the project definition of a crime laboratory: "A laboratory that employs one or more full-time scientist whose principal function is the examination of physical evidence for law enforcement agencies and that provides reports and testimony to courts of law with respect to such evidence." The population subsequently dropped to 351 eligible laboratories.

Publicly funded federal, state, and local forensic crime laboratories currently operating in United States.

crime laboratory

event/transaction data

survey data

computer-assisted self interview (CASI)

self-enumerated questionnaire

Completed surveys were obtained from 281 laboratories. In a final effort to improve response, UIC and BJS developed a reduced length survey instrument that collected basic information about laboratory operations. In conjunction with additional telephone calls and e-mails, another 25 laboratories responded to the shorter survey, for an overall response rate of 87 percent (306/351).



2008-10-24 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.