Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002 (ICPSR 4287)

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


To obtain current baseline information about the workload and operations of the nation's forensic crime laboratories, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) conducted its first census of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories from 2003 to 2004. Data were collected on the organization, functions, budget, staffing, workload, and performance expectations of the nation's publicly funded federal, state, and local forensic crime laboratories currently operating.

Series: Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Labs Series

Access Notes

  • 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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Study Description


United States Department of Justice. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002. ICPSR04287-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2005-09-02. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04287.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04287.v1

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This study was funded by:

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

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    budgets, crime laboratories, criminal investigations, DNA fingerprinting, expenditures, forensic sciences, personnel, policies and procedures

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2003--2004

Date of Collection:   

  • 2003--2004

Unit of Observation:    crime laboratories

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

Data Type(s):    survey data


Sample:    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 scientists 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. 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).

Mode of Data Collection:    self-enumerated questionnaire

Response Rates:    87 percent

Extent of Processing:   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:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2005-09-02

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