Skip navigation
The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct - Header

Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020-Dec. 2023

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics

December 2023, NCJ 306473

Connor Brooks, BJS Statistician

N

ationwide, 326 publicly funded forensic
crime laboratories and multilab systems
received more than 3.3 million requests
for service in 2020 (figure 1). This was down 12%
from the nearly 3.8 million requests in 2014. A
third (33%) of all requests received by crime labs
in 2020 were to analyze controlled substances.
(See table 1.)
Crime labs perform a variety of forensic analyses
for federal, state, and local criminal justice
agencies, examining and reporting on physical
evidence collected during criminal investigations.
To increase knowledge of crime lab operations and
how they change over time, the Bureau of Justice
Statistics (BJS) periodically conducts the Census
of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories
(CPFFCL). The CPFFCL covers all forensic crime
labs that are solely funded by a government or
whose parent organization is a federal, state,
county, or municipal agency. Findings in this
report are based on the 2020 CPFFCL, which
gathered data on the workloads, staffing,
resources, policies, procedures, and budgets of the
326 standalone labs and multilab systems (totaling
423 individual labs) in 2020, as well as counts of
employees and service requests in 2019.

FIGURE 1
Number of requests received by publicly funded
forensic crime laboratories, 2009, 2014, and 2020
All requests
4,500,000
4,000,000
3,500,000
3,000,000
2,500,000
2,000,000
1,500,000
1,000,000
500,000
0

†

2009

†

2014

2020*

Note: Excludes requests that were outsourced to other labs.
Counts are rounded to the nearest thousand. See table 1 for
estimates and appendix table 1 for standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95%
confidence level.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded
Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

HIGHLIGHTS
„

In 2020, the 326 publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories and multilab systems in the United
States received 3.3 million requests for service.

„

Requests for controlled substances analysis
accounted for a third (33%) of all requests that
crime labs received in 2020.

„

State-run crime labs received nearly 60% of all
requests in 2020.

„

At yearend 2020, crime labs had a backlog
of about 710,900 requests that had not been
completed within 30 days of submission.

„

Forty-seven percent of all crime labs outsourced
some of their work to other labs in 2020.

„

Crime labs employed 15,600 full-time-equivalent
employees at yearend 2020 and had about 1,500
job vacancies.

„

In 2020, crime labs nationwide had a combined
operating budget of approximately $2 billion.

„

About 9 in 10 crime labs in 2020 were accredited
by a professional organization.

„

Approximately 87% of crime labs had a
laboratory information system in 2020.

Bul l etin

Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2020

Terms and definitions
Analyst or examiner—An investigator in a forensic crime
laboratory who inspects, analyzes, and interprets physical
evidence, writes reports, and delivers testimony in court
about the evidence.
Case—A single criminal investigation. A case may involve
multiple requests to different disciplines, departments, or
units within a crime lab.
Laboratory information management system
(LIMS)—A computerized system used to manage,
compile, or track requests or evidence
Request—The submission of one or more items of
physical evidence from a criminal investigation (i.e., case)
to a specialized area of a crime lab. Multiple submissions
of new evidence from a case to one or more areas of a
crime lab are counted as separate requests. Crime labs
may refer to a request as a “request for service,” “forensic
service request,” “client request,” or “assignment.”
Backlogged request—A request that was submitted
to a specialized area of a crime lab and was not
completed within 30 days of submission.
Forensic disciplines—The Census of Publicly Funded
Forensic Crime Laboratories collects information on the
following forensic disciplines:
Controlled substances analysis—The identification
of drugs and other substances whose possession
or use, in either legal or illicit dosages, is restricted
by government.
Crime scene analysis—The identification,
documentation, collection, and interpretation of
physical evidence where a suspected crime has
occurred, at a location external to a crime lab facility.
Digital evidence analysis—The investigation of
various types of analog or multimedia evidence,
such as the recovery, extraction, and analysis of
computer files, film, tape, and magnetic and optical
media. This excludes activities such as reviewing
surveillance footage.
Firearms analysis—The examination and comparison
of evidence resulting from the discharge or use of
a firearm.
Forensic biology—Includes the disciplines of biology
screening and DNA analysis. Biology screening is
the examination of evidence for the presence of
stains from blood, saliva, and other physiological
fluids. DNA analysis is the process used to develop
a DNA profile from arrested or convicted persons as
required by federal and state laws or from casework
samples collected from crime scenes, victims, or
suspects. These profiles and samples are compared

against DNA databases to check for possible
matches. Two approaches to DNA analysis are direct
to DNA and probabilistic genotyping.
Direct to DNA—An approach that analyzes
DNA in a sample before moving to serology
to maximize the chances of obtaining eligible
profiles in the Combined DNA Index System
(CODIS). CODIS is a computer software
program that operates national, state, and
local databases of DNA profiles from convicted
persons, unsolved crime scene evidence, and
missing persons. This approach is used for
processing sexual assault kits to identify male
and female DNA present in a sample.
Probabilistic genotyping—An approach in
DNA analysis that is used when the sample
containing the DNA in question is degraded
or when the sample may contain DNA from
multiple persons. Probabilistic genotyping
uses statistical models to estimate the
likelihood that the DNA from the person of
interest matches DNA found in the sample
in question.
Impressions analysis—The identification,
documentation, collection, and interpretation
of two- and three-dimensional impressions and
imprints found at crime scenes, including shoe and
tire prints.
Latent prints analysis—The development or
comparison of fingerprint or palmprint impressions.
Questioned documents analysis—The examination
of printed, typed, or written material to identify
its source or determine if alterations have been
made. These analyses could include other means
of gaining information about the material or the
circumstances surrounding its production.
Toolmarks analysis—The comparison of marks made
by various tools to determine what type of tool left a
mark on a piece of evidence.
Toxicology—The analysis of biological samples for
the presence of drugs and other potentially toxic
materials. Includes antemortem blood alcohol
content analysis, antemortem drug analysis, and
postmortem analysis.
Trace evidence analysis—Any analytical procedure
using microscopy, chemical, or instrumental
techniques. Includes the examination of gunshot
residue, explosives, hair, fibers, and fire debris.

Crime labs received about 3.3 million requests
in 2020, a third of which were for controlled
substances analysis
Publicly funded forensic crime laboratories reported the
total number of requests they received and completed
by type in 2020.1 The number of completed requests
may not equal the number of requests received in a
given year for several reasons. The number of completed
requests may include requests received in a previous
year. Criminal justice agencies could also cancel requests
before labs completed them if the request was no longer
needed, such as when an investigation closed. In 2020,
crime labs received a total of 3.3 million requests and
completed 3.2 million (table 1). The most common
request was for controlled substances analysis (33% of
all requests), followed by DNA databasing of samples
from arrested or convicted persons (20%) and toxicology
analysis (19%).

collect evidence during criminal investigations. An
investigation may generate multiple requests. For
example, fingerprint and DNA evidence from the same
case may lead to two or more requests for analysis to be
conducted by a crime lab.
In 2020, the majority (80%) of crime labs performed
controlled substances analysis (table 2). Most state (88%)
and county (86%) labs performed controlled substances
analysis, while about 66% of federal and municipal labs
did so. About 65% of all crime labs analyzed latent prints,
while 61% conducted firearms or toolmarks analysis.
Fifty-nine percent of crime labs engaged in forensic
biology. Of those labs that engaged in forensic biology,
97% engaged in forensic biology casework, 94% in sexual
assault casework, 46% in probabilistic genotyping, 44%
in direct to DNA analysis, 32% in DNA databasing
of samples from convicted persons, and 21% in DNA
databasing of samples from arrested persons.

The distribution of the types of requests has changed
somewhat over time. While controlled substances
analysis accounted for one-third of requests in 2009
(34%), 2014 (33%), and 2020, DNA databasing accounted
for 26% of requests in 2009 and 20% of requests in 2020.

Less than half of crime labs conducted toxicology (47%),
crime scene (46%), or trace evidence analysis (42%). A
third (34%) analyzed impressions. Less than a quarter
(23%) of labs conducted digital evidence analysis, and
12% analyzed questioned documents.

Controlled substances analysis was the most
commonly performed forensic analysis across crime
labs in 2020

A greater percentage of state labs (78%) than county
(64%) or municipal (45%) labs engaged in forensic
biology. A greater percentage of state labs also performed
toxicology analysis (68%) than county (47%) or
municipal (35%) labs. A lower percentage of state labs
(15%) than federal (38%) or municipal (34%) labs
analyzed digital evidence.

Publicly funded forensic crime laboratories receive a
variety of requests to perform forensic functions from
police departments, prosecutors, courts, correctional
facilities, and other criminal justice agencies as they
1They also provided the total number of requests received in 2019.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

3

TABLE 1
Requests received and completed by publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by type of request, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Type of request
All requests
Controlled substances
analysis
Crime scene analysis
Digital evidence analysis
DNA databasing
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents
analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis

Number
4,020,000 †

Percent
100%

Received
2014
Number
Percent
3,783,000 †
100%

1,358,000 †
188,000 †
33,000
1,053,000 †
147,000 †
260,000 †
11,000
270,000 †

33.8
4.7
0.8
26.2 †
3.7 †
6.5 †
-6.7 †

1,265,000 †
171,000
25,000
908,000 †
154,000 †
333,000
7,000
295,000 †

33.4
4.5
0.7
24.0
4.1 †
8.8 †
-7.8 †

1,088,000
144,000
27,000
671,000
225,000
339,000
7,000
180,000

32.5
4.3
0.8
20.1
6.7
10.1
-5.4

1,261,000 †
188,000 †
33,000
1,027,000 †
132,000 †
239,000 †
11,000
274,000 †

32.9
4.9
0.9
26.8 †
3.5 †
6.2 †
-7.1 †

1,197,000 †
170,000
24,000
904,000 †
142,000 †
296,000 ‡
7,000
301,000 †

32.8
4.7
0.7
24.8
3.9 †
8.1 †
-8.3 †

1,026,000 31.9
144,000 4.5
26,000 0.8
650,000 20.2
199,000 6.2
318,000 9.9
8,000 !
-172,000 5.3

13,000 †
629,000
58,000 †

-15.6 †
1.4 †

9,000 †
566,000
49,000 ‡

-15.0 †
1.3

2,000
629,000
34,000

-18.8
1.0

12,000 †
606,000
47,000 †

-15.8 †
1.2 ‡

9,000 †
554,000
41,000

-15.2 †
1.1

2,000
-643,000 20.0
31,000 1.0

2009

2020*
Number Percent
3,346,000
100%

2009

Number
3,830,000 †

Percent
100%

Completed
2014
Number
Percent
3,646,000 †
100%

2020*
Number Percent
3,218,000 100%

Note: Excludes requests that were outsourced to other labs. Completed requests may exceed received requests if a request completed in one year had been received in a previous year. Criminal justice agencies
could also cancel requests before labs completed them if the request was no longer needed, such as when an investigation closed. Counts are rounded to the nearest thousand. Details may not sum to totals
due to rounding. See appendix table 1 for standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90% confidence level.
--Less than 0.5%.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

4

TABLE 2
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab and forensic function performed, 2020
Forensic function performed
Controlled substances analysis
Latent prints analysis
Print development
Comparisons analysis
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology
Forensic biology casework
Sexual assault casework
Probabilistic genotyping
Direct to DNA
DNA databasing of convicted person samples
DNA databasing of arrested person samples
Toxicology
Antemortem blood alcohol content analysis
Antemortem drug analysis
Postmortem analysis
Crime scene analysis
Evidence collection
Scene reconstruction
Trace evidence analysis
Fire debris analysis
Chemical unknown analysis
Paint analysis
Hair examination
Fiber examination
Gunshot residue testing
Explosives analysis
Impressions analysis
Footwear analysis
Tire tread analysis
Digital evidence analysis
Smartphone/tablet/mobile device analysis
Storage media analysis
Traditional cellphone analysis
Laptop/desktop computer analysis
Video analysis
GPS/navigation systems analysis
Audio files analysis
Cloud/server analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Total number of standalone labs/multilab systems
Number of individual labs

All crime labs
79.7%
65.4%
96.8
89.7
60.9%
59.4%
97.0
93.9
45.9
43.7
32.5
20.9
46.8%
95.5
64.1
39.5
46.2%
97.9
52.8
41.8%
72.6
62.4
46.5
44.9
45.0
41.3
27.7
33.6%
94.7
72.8
22.9%
89.5
88.1
81.7
74.3
67.9
48.0
41.2
37.3
11.9%

Federal
66.2% †
72.0% †
100
77.8 †
21.4% !
21.4% !
84.4 !
41.7 !
25.6 !
15.2 !
26.5 !
41.7 !
8.7% !
62.8 !
100 !
100 !
31.5% !
100 !
28.4 !
47.2%
42.2 !
100 †
42.2 !
41.5 !
41.8 !
7.4 !
41.5 !
11.9% !
100 !
71.8 !
37.9% †
92.0 †
92.0
92.0 †
83.9 !
58.4 !
73.2 !
54.8 !
27.1 !
21.5% !

State*
87.7%
55.1%
100
96.4
67.3%
77.8%
98.8
96.3
44.5
49.6
58.0
32.2
68.3%
97.1
64.9
42.8
39.0%
97.6
65.8
51.9%
84.9
57.1
52.7
46.8
52.7
43.7
33.2
40.6%
100
90.6
15.4%
80.5
87.1
80.5
67.1
56.1 !
48.7 !
31.2 !
24.6 !
12.2%

326
423

40
40

113
208

Jurisdiction
County
85.9%
58.5% ‡
92.6 †
89.1 †
64.9%
64.3% †
98.2
95.0
44.0
35.8 †
13.1 !
9.9 !
47.0% †
93.0 †
72.4 †
47.8 ‡
42.0%
95.0 †
48.8 †
38.2% †
69.3 †
49.9 †
46.7 †
44.1
35.9 †
49.9 †
16.5 !
33.8% †
90.1 †
59.3 †
17.1%
87.6 ‡
100 †
80.9
80.9 †
75.2
49.3 !
44.1 !
50.1 !
6.2% !
102
103

Municipal
66.2% †
87.7% †
96.3 †
89.1 †
68.0%
45.1% †
93.1 †
100 †
59.3 †
51.9
3.4 !
6.9 !
34.7% †
100 †
40.4 !
4.3 !
72.1% †
100 †
51.2 †
27.9% †
70.9 †
65.5 †
32.3 !
44.2 !
43.2 !
48.4 !
21.5 !
34.6% †
90.5 †
59.2 †
34.5% †
95.7 †
77.8 †
76.2
68.4
77.1
32.0 !
37.9 !
43.2 !
13.8% !
71
72

Note: Percentages reported for subfunctions are based on labs that performed the overall function (e.g., of the 55% of state crime labs that performed
latent prints analysis, 100% performed print development). See appendix table 2 for standard errors.
*Comparison group.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison group is significant at the 90% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

5

About 60% of all requests in 2020 were received by
state labs
State-run forensic crime laboratories received nearly
2 million requests for service in 2020, accounting
for almost 60% of all requests (figure 2). County
FIGURE 2
Requests received by publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab, 2020
Federal
245,000

State
1,979,000

County
655,000

Municipal
467,000

70

90

All requests
0

10

20

30

40

50 60
Percent

80

100

labs received 655,000 requests (20% of all requests),
municipal labs received 467,000 (14%), and federal labs
received 245,000 (7%).
The types of requests that crime labs received in 2020
varied by the jurisdiction they served. Controlled
substances analysis was the most common request
received by federal (49% of all their requests), county
(37%), and state (32%) labs (table 3). For municipal labs,
requests for crime scene (19%) and controlled substances
(19%) analysis were most common. Requests for DNA
databasing of samples from arrested or convicted persons
accounted for 28% of all requests received by state labs.
Twenty-eight percent of requests received by county
labs and 20% received by state labs were for toxicology
analysis, compared to 11% of requests received by
municipal labs.

Note: Excludes requests that were outsourced to other labs. Details may
not sum to totals due to rounding. See table 3 for estimates and appendix
table 3 for standard errors.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2020.

TABLE 3
Percent of requests received by publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab and type of
request, 2020
Type of request
All requests
Controlled substances analysis
Crime scene analysis
Digital evidence analysis
DNA databasing
Arrested person samples
Convicted person samples
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology
Sexual assault casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis
Total number of requests

All crime labs
100%
32.5%
4.3%
0.8%
20.1%
10.6
6.8
6.7%
10.1%
2.6
-5.4%
-18.8%
1.0%
3,346,000

Federal
100%
49.1% †
1.1% !
1.1% !
37.3% !
19.3 !
7.8 !
1.4% !
1.4% !
--5.8% †
-1.8% !
0.9% !
245,000

State*
100%
32.4%
0.6% !
-28.3%
14.8
10.4
4.4%
9.9%
3.2
-3.3%
-19.8%
1.1%
1,979,000

Jurisdiction

County
100%
36.6% †
5.8%
0.5%
1.1% !
0.6 !
-9.5% †
11.0%
2.0 †
-6.2% †
-27.8%
1.4%

655,000

Municipal
100%
18.7% †
19.3%
3.3% †
2.8% !
2.6 !
-15.6% †
14.4% †
2.2 †
1.4% !
13.1% †
-11.1% †
-467,000

Note: Excludes requests that were outsourced to other labs. Details may not sum to totals due to rounding. See appendix table 3 for standard errors.
*Comparison group.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison group is significant at the 90% confidence level.
--Less than 0.5%.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

6

Crime labs reported a backlog of about 710,900
requests at yearend 2020
Many factors affect the workload of a crime lab, such as
how complex the requested analyses are and what staff
and other resources the lab has available. Crime labs
reported the number and type of backlogged requests they
had as of 2020. A request was considered backlogged if it
had not been completed and reported to the submitting
agency within 30 days of submission. At yearend 2020,
crime labs had a total backlog of 710,900 requests
(table 4). In comparison, there were 895,500 backlogged
requests at yearend 2009 and 570,100 backlogged
requests at yearend 2014. Some crime labs responded
to the COVID-19 pandemic by suspending operations
during 2020, which partly accounted for the increase in
backlogged requests from yearend 2014 to yearend 2020.
From yearend 2014 to yearend 2020, the backlog
increased for firearms or toolmarks analysis (up 97%),
DNA databasing (up 87%), controlled substances analysis
(up 22%), forensic biology casework (up 17%), and
toxicology analysis (up 16%). The backlog decreased for
analysis of digital evidence (down 76%), impressions
(down 75%), questioned documents (down 63%), latent
prints (down 37%), and trace evidence (down 25%).
47% of crime labs outsourced some forensic work
in 2020
To address demand for forensic services, publicly funded
forensic crime laboratories may outsource work to other
public or private labs. In 2020, about 47% of crime labs
outsourced some of their work to other labs (figure 3).

FIGURE 3
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories
that outsourced requests, by jurisdiction of lab, 2002,
2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Jurisdiction
■
■
■
■
■

All crime labs
!

Federal

!

2002
2005a
2009
2014
2020*

!

State

t

County

Municipal
0

10

20

30
40
Percent

50

60

70

Note: See appendix table 5 for estimates and standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or
coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
aThe federal 2005 estimate is not shown separately due to a low response
rate, but is included in the 2005 estimate for all crime labs.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

TABLE 4
Backlogged requests in publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by type of request, yearend 2009, 2014, and 2020
Type of backlogged request
All requests
Controlled substances analysis
Digital evidence analysis
DNA databasing of arrested/
convicted person samples
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis

Number
895,500 †
139,200 †
1,600
502,500 †
48,300
103,500 †
6,100 †
49,500
2,600 †
27,600 †
14,700 †

Yearend 2009
Percent
100%
15.5 †
-56.1 †
5.4
11.6 †
0.7 †
5.5
-3.1 †
1.6 †

Number
570,100 †
213,700 †
7,800 †
64,800 ‡
51,100
107,800 ‡
2,400 †
69,400 †
800 †
40,000
12,200 †

Yearend 2014
Percent
100%
37.5
1.4 †
11.4
9.0
18.9
-12.2 †
-7.0
2.1 †

Yearend 2020*
Number
Percent
710,900
100%
260,600
36.7
1,900
-121,000
101,000
126,100
600
43,900
300
46,400
9,200

17.0
14.2
17.7
-6.2
-6.5
1.3

Note: Excludes requests that were outsourced to other labs. Requests were considered backlogged if they had not been examined and reported to the
submitting agency within 30 days of submission. Counts are rounded to the nearest hundred. Details may not sum to totals due to rounding. See appendix
table 4 for standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90% confidence level.
--Less than 0.5%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

In comparison, 38% of crime labs outsourced work in
2014. About half of state (51%), municipal (50%), and
county (47%) labs and more than a third (35%) of federal
labs outsourced work in 2020.
Most (72%) crime labs outsourcing any work in 2020
outsourced requests for forensic biology (table 5).
Among crime labs outsourcing forensic biology work,
85% outsourced sexual assault casework and 55%
outsourced forensic biology casework. About two-thirds
(64%) of crime labs outsourcing any work outsourced
toxicology requests. Thirty percent of crime labs that
outsourced requests did so for controlled substances
analysis, while 25% outsourced trace evidence analysis.
TABLE 5
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories
that outsourced requests, by type of request, 2020
Type of outsourced request
Controlled substances analysis
Crime scene analysis
Digital evidence analysis
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology
Forensic biology casework
DNA databasing of arrested person samples
DNA databasing of convicted person samples
Sexual assault casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis

Percent
29.9%
2.4% !
13.6% !
19.3%
71.6%
54.5
25.8 !
19.2 !
85.4
8.4% !
12.3%
6.2% !
64.4%
25.1%

Note: Percentages are based on labs that performed the forensic service
and outsourced requests (e.g., of the labs that performed forensic biology
and outsourced any requests, 71.6% outsourced at least some of such
requests). See appendix table 6 for standard errors.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or
coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2020.

In 2020, a total of 15,600 full-time-equivalent
employees worked in crime labs
Publicly funded forensic crime laboratories employed
15,600 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees at yearend
2020 (figure 4). (The number of FTE employees is the
number of full-time employees plus half the number of
part-time employees.) Overall, the number of employees
increased with each year of data collection. At yearend
2020, crime labs employed about 42% more FTE
employees than at yearend 2002. State and municipal labs
had consistent growth in the number of FTE employees
since yearend 2002. The number of FTE employees in
federal labs varied from about 2,000 at yearend 2002 to
2,700 at yearend 2020.
FIGURE 4
Number of full-time-equivalent employees in publicly
funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab,
yearend 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020
FTE employees
16,000

Yearend
2002
t
14,000 - -----:j:-t-nllt-- - - - - - - - - - ■ 2005
2009
t
---- - - - - - - - - - ■■ 2014
12,000
■ 2020*
10,000
■

8,000
6,000
4,000

!

2,000
0

All crime labs

Federal

State
Jurisdiction

County

Municipal

Note: The number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees is the number of
full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees. Counts
are rounded to the nearest hundred. Details may not sum to totals due to
rounding. See appendix table 7 for estimates and standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or
coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime
Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

8

Of the 15,600 FTE employees in crime labs in 2020,
the largest portion worked in state labs (43%), followed
by municipal (20%), county (19%), and federal (17%)
labs (table 6). Sixty-two percent of FTE employees in
all crime labs were analysts or examiners: 56% were
full-performance analysts or examiners and 6% were
in training. About 12% of all FTE employees had
managerial roles, 8% worked in technical support, 6%
were crime scene technicians, and 5% had other roles.
Crime labs had more than 1,500 job vacancies
in 2020
State crime laboratories employed the most FTE
employees at 6,800, followed by municipal labs with

3,200 FTE employees (table 7). About three-quarters
(74% or 241) of all crime labs employed fewer than 50
FTE employees.
Nationwide, crime labs had a total of about 1,200 hires
and 1,100 separations in 2020. While hires outnumbered
separations, more than 1,500 jobs remained vacant
at yearend 2020. State labs accounted for the highest
portion of hires (41%), separations (37%), and job
vacancies (41%). Across all crime labs, those employing
100 or more FTE employees accounted for more than
half of hires (51%), separations (52%), and job vacancies
(56%). About half (52%) of all FTE employees worked in
crime labs that employed 100 or more FTE employees.

TABLE 6
Percent of full-time-equivalent employees in publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab and
type of employee, 2020
Type of employee
Analyst/examiner
In training
Full performance
Managerial
Clerical/administrative
Crime scene technician
Technical support
Other
Total number of FTE employees

All crime labs
61.6%
5.9
55.7
12.5%
7.1%
5.9%
7.7%
5.3%
15,620

Federal
49.5% †
2.5 †
47.0 †
17.2% †
11.3% †
3.6% †
10.5% †
7.8%
2,680

State*
68.4%
7.3
61.1
11.7%
6.6%
1.2%
8.6%
3.5%
6,760

Jurisdiction

County
61.3% †
5.4 †
55.9 †
12.4% †
6.7%
8.3% †
5.1% †
6.2% †
2,970

Municipal
57.6% †
6.2 †
51.4 †
10.3% †
4.9% †
15.5% †
5.7% †
5.9% †
3,200

Note: The number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees is the number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees. Details may
not sum to totals due to rounding. See appendix table 8 for standard errors.
*Comparison group.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

9

TABLE 7
Full-time-equivalent employees, hires, separations, and job vacancies in publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020

All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizee
100 or more FTE employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Standalone labs/
multilab systems
Number
Percent
326
100%

FTE employeesa,b,c
Number
Percent
15,620
100%

Hiresc,d
Number
Percent
1,210
100%

Separationsc,d
Number
Percent
1,120
100%

Net changec
Number
Percent
80
100%

Job vacanciesb,c
Number
Percent
1,530
100%

41
112
102
71

12.6%
34.4
31.3
21.8

2,680
6,760
2,970
3,200

17.2% †
43.3
19.0 †
20.5 †

260
500
200
250

21.7% †
41.2
16.5 †
20.6 †

190
420
240
270

17.0% †
37.4
21.3 †
24.4 †

70
80
-40
-30

84.3%
92.3
-46.8 †
-29.8 †

420
620
190
300

27.4% †
40.6
12.4 †
19.6 †

41
44
78
90
72

12.6%
13.6
24.0
27.7
22.1

8,170
2,890
2,760
1,410
380

52.3%
18.5 †
17.7 †
9.1 †
2.4 †

610
200
240
110
40

50.6%
16.8 †
20.1 †
9.5 †
2.9 †

580
200
200
100
40

51.9%
18.1 †
17.7 †
8.7 †
3.6 †

30 !
<5
40
20
-10

33.0% !
-52.3
21.2
-6.8 †

860
250
290
110
30

56.0%
16.2 †
18.8 †
7.0 †
1.9 †

Note: Details may not sum to totals due to rounding. See appendix table 9 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
--Less than 0.5%.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
aThe number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees is the number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
bEstimates are as of yearend 2020.
cCounts are rounded to the nearest ten and may not sum to totals due to rounding. Percentages are based on unrounded counts of employees.
dIncludes analysts or examiners, managerial staff, clerical or administrative staff, crime scene technicians, and technical support staff. Excludes employees in other job functions.
eSize is based on the number of FTE employees in a standalone lab or multilab system.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

10

Changes in staffing and requests for service in publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories between 2019 and 2020
The 2020 Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime
Laboratories collected information on the total number of
persons employed and new requests for service received
in crime labs in 2019 and 2020. Crime labs had about
16,410 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in 2019,
about 5% more than the 15,620 in 2020 (table 8). State
and county labs had more FTE employees in 2019 than
in 2020.
While the number of requests received across all crime
labs in 2020 was not statistically different from the
number received in 2019, federal labs received about 49%
more requests in 2020 (245,000) than in 2019 (164,000).
Municipal labs received about 8% fewer requests in 2020
(467,000) than in 2019 (507,000).

TABLE 8
Number of full-time-equivalent employees in and
requests received by publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab, 2019 and 2020
Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

FTE employeesa
2019
2020*
16,410 †
15,620
2,710
2,680
7,240 †
6,760
3,120 ‡
2,970
3,340
3,200

Requestsb
2019
2020*
3,461,000
3,346,000
164,000 †
245,000
2,095,000
1,979,000
695,000
655,000
507,000 †
467,000

Note: Details may not sum to totals due to rounding. See appendix
table 10 for standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95%
confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90%
confidence level.
aThe number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees is the number
of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Counts are rounded to the nearest ten.
bCounts are rounded to the nearest thousand.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

11

Crime labs had a combined annual operating budget
of about $2 billion in 2020
In 2020, state crime laboratories accounted for just over
half (51% or $1 billion) of the approximately $2 billion
annual operating budget of all crime labs (table 9).
County labs accounted for about 22% of the total budget,
municipal labs for about 16%, and federal labs for about
11%. Across all crime labs, those with 100 or more FTE
employees accounted for about 46% of the total budget,
while those with 25 to 49 FTE employees accounted
for 20%.
The average operating budget per standalone lab or
multilab system in 2020 was about $6.7 million. The
average budget was $10.9 million per state, $5.5 million
per federal, $5.0 million per municipal, and $4.4 million
per county lab or multilab system.
The overall average budget per request was $620 in 2020.
State labs had the lowest budget per request at about
$550, while federal labs had the highest at about $900
per request.
The combined operating budget of all crime labs
increased between 2002 and 2020, from about $1.8
billion (adjusted to 2020 dollars) to $2 billion (figure 5).
Operating budgets increased among state, county, and
municipal labs and decreased among federal labs during
this period.

FIGURE 5
Annual operating budgets of publicly funded forensic
crime laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab, 2002, 2005,
2009, 2014, and 2020
Annual operating budget (in billions)

$2.2
$2.0
$1.8
$1.6
$1.4
$1.2
$1.0
$0.8
$0.6
$0.4
$0.2
$0.0

■
■
■
■
■

All crime labs

Federal

State
Jurisdiction

County

2002
2005a
2009
2014
2020*

Municipal

Note: Estimates are adjusted to 2020 dollars and may differ from
previously reported statistics. See Methodology. See appendix table 12 for
estimates and standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
aThe federal 2005 estimate is not shown separately due to a low response
rate, but is included in the 2005 estimate for all crime labs.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime
Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

TABLE 9
Annual operating budgets of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020
Total operating budget
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizec
100 or more FTE employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Average operating budget
Per standalone lab/
multilab systema
Per requestb
$6,711,000
$620

Numbera
$1,988,285,000

Percent
100%

$219,296,000
$1,008,837,000
$440,603,000
$319,548,000

11.0%
50.7
22.2
16.1

$5,517,000 †
$10,884,000
$4,421,000 †
$4,978,000 †

$900 †
$550
$670 †
$730 †

$912,630,000
$346,996,000
$403,745,000
$264,562,000
$60,352,000

45.9%
17.5
20.3
13.3
3.0

$23,390,000
$8,657,000 †
$5,473,000 †
$3,331,000 †
$943,000 †

$570
$580
$630 ‡
$1,010 †
$600

Note: Details may not sum to totals due to rounding. See appendix table 11 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison group is significant at the 90% confidence level.
aEstimates are rounded to the nearest thousand.
bEstimates are rounded to the nearest ten.
cSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the number
of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

The majority (72%) of crime labs in the United States
received funding from federal grants (table 10). This was
also true for state (96%), county (75%), and municipal
(64%) labs. About 44% of all crime labs received funding
from state or local grants. About 34% received fees from
services performed, while 20% received funds from
asset forfeitures.
About 87% of crime labs in 2020 had a laboratory
information management system
A laboratory information management system (LIMS)
is software that allows crime labs to manage, compile,
or track requests or evidence to be analyzed. About 87%
of all publicly funded forensic crime laboratories had a
LIMS in 2020, an increase from 75% in 2002 (figure 6).
Almost all (99%) state labs had a LIMS in 2020, while
88% of federal labs and 85% of county labs had a LIMS.
In 2020, about three-quarters (73%) of municipal labs
had a LIMS.

FIGURE 6
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories
with a laboratory information management system,
2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Jurisdiction

■
■
■
■
■

All crime labs

2002
2005a
2009
2014
2020*

Federal

State

County

Municipal
0

10

20

30

40

50 60
Percent

70

80

90

100

Note: See appendix table 14 for estimates and standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90% confidence level.
aThe federal 2005 estimate is not shown separately due to a low response
rate, but is included in the 2005 estimate for all crime labs.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

TABLE 10
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by selected types of funding received and jurisdiction and size
of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizea
100 or more FTE employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Asset forfeitures
20.2%

Donations
5.5%

Fees
33.8%

Federal grants
71.6%

State/local grants
43.7%

38.1% †
10.7
15.2 †
31.8 †

0% †
12.3
0†
6.0 !

9.5% !
37.7
49.4 †
19.1 †

9.6% !
96.2
75.1 †
63.7 †

9.6% !
42.1
61.5 †
40.6

20.4% !
25.1 !
26.5
13.0 !
19.2

7.7% !
11.8 !
3.0 !
6.8 !
1.6 !

35.2%
41.1 †
29.9 †
32.0
35.0

91.6%
75.8 †
77.0 †
67.5 †
56.6 †

61.6%
52.5 †
47.0 †
32.7 †
38.1 †

Note: See appendix table 13 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
aSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the number
of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

In 2020, about 13% of crime labs had resources
directed primarily to research
About 13% of all publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories in 2020 had resources directed primarily to
research (table 11). A third (33%) of all crime labs with
100 or more FTE employees had resources dedicated
primarily to research.
Almost all crime labs had safety and wellness
resources for their employees in 2020
In 2020, almost all (99%) crime labs made safety and
wellness resources available to their employees, either
directly or through an external agency (table 12).
Nearly all crime labs had employee assistance programs
(97%), while 9 in 10 provided web-based resources
(91%) or behavior or stress management (89%). Most
crime labs with fewer than 10 FTE employees provided
employee assistance programs (93%), behavior or stress
management (84%), or web-based resources (84%).
Sixty-three percent of those small crime labs provided
mental health debriefing (support or interventions
following traumatic events), and 52% had proactive
resiliency programs.

TABLE 11
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories with
resources directed primarily to research, by jurisdiction
and size of lab, 2002, 2009, 2014, and 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Sizea
100 or more FTE
employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

2002
12.3%

2009
7.2% †

2014
13.8%

2020*
13.4%

51.4% !
7.9
11.2 !
9.3 !

30.7% !
5.7
4.7 !
1.6 !

56.1%
10.8
10.8 !
4.0 !

17.7% !
9.3 !
16.2
13.5 !

22.4% !
32.6
13.5 !
6.3 !
7.9 !

43.3% !
20.8 !
1.5 !
3.7 !
1.7 !

41.2% !
28.7
24.0 †
1.6 !
6.7 !

33.1%
16.6 !
16.0
5.1 !
8.0 !

Note: Data on resources for research were not collected in the 2005 census.
See appendix table 15 for standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or
coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
aSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees
in a standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees
is the number of full-time employees plus half the number of parttime employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

14

TABLE 12
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by selected employee safety and wellness resources and jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizeb
100 or more FTE employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Any resource
98.6%

Behavior/stress
management
89.1%

Employee
assistance programs
96.9%

100% †
99.1
96.6 †
100 †

91.1% ‡
94.4
78.3 †
95.4

97.0%
99.1
92.3 †
100 †

71.5%
73.7
65.0 †
87.2 †

61.9%
61.3
49.1 †
66.3 †

100% †
95.3
81.4 †
95.1

100%
97.7 †
100
100
95.1 †

91.8%
93.0
88.9
90.5
83.9 †

100%
95.3 †
98.6 †
97.5 †
93.5 †

89.3%
75.1 †
78.7 †
69.9 †
63.0 †

81.8%
64.6 †
59.9 †
49.4 †
52.0 †

97.5%
92.9 †
91.7 †
94.0 †
83.9 †

Mental health debriefinga
73.7%

Proactive
resiliency programs
58.7%

Web-based resources
91.5%

Note: Includes crime labs that reported providing the resource directly or through an external agency. See appendix table 16 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison group is significant at the 90% confidence level.
aSupport or interventions following traumatic events.
bSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the number of full-time employees plus half the number of parttime employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

15

9 in 10 crime labs in 2020 were accredited by a
professional organization

98% of crime labs in 2020 used declared testing to
evaluate their analysts’ proficiency

Third-party professional forensic-science accreditation
organizations assess a crime lab’s policies and procedures
to evaluate its technical competency and ability to
generate valid forensic findings and interpret results.
These organizations periodically monitor accredited
crime labs to ensure they maintain the standards
required to comply with industry best practices. Crime
labs can be accredited in one or more forensic disciplines.

Forensic crime laboratories may test the proficiency
of their analysts or examiners by evaluating their
performance against preestablished criteria and
comparing test results from different labs. In blind tests,
the examiner or crime lab is not aware the test is being
conducted. In declared tests, the examiner knows the
sample to be analyzed is a test sample. In random case
reanalysis, the examiner’s work is randomly selected for
reanalysis by another examiner. In a round robin (or
challenge) test, measurements or analyses are performed
independently several times. Crime labs may also
perform competency testing to evaluate the knowledge
and abilities of their analysts or examiners before they
perform independent forensic casework.

Ninety percent of all publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories were accredited in at least one discipline
in 2020, up from about 88% in 2014 (table 13). In
2020, almost all state labs (98%) had some form of
accreditation, as did 94% of federal labs, 86% of county
labs, and 82% of municipal labs. All crime labs with
25 to 99 FTE employees had at least one accredited
discipline in 2020. Most crime labs with 100 or more FTE
employees (97%) or 10 to 24 FTE employees (95%) were
accredited, while 64% of crime labs with fewer than 10
FTE employees were accredited in at least one discipline.
TABLE 13
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories
accredited by a professional organization, by jurisdiction
and size of lab, 2014 and 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Sizea
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

2014
88.4% †

2020*
90.4%

88.5%
98.8 ‡
85.2
66.9 †

93.7%
98.0
86.3
82.2

100% †
100
97.8
89.9 †
70.0 †

97.4%
100
100
94.7
64.3

In 2020, about 98% of crime labs conducted some form
of proficiency testing, with 98% performing declared
tests, 32% random case reanalysis, 11% blind tests, 7%
round robin tests, and 9% some other test (table 14). A
greater percentage of state labs (43%) than municipal
or county labs (both 24%) conducted random case
reanalysis. About 87% of all crime labs performed
competency testing of their analysts or examiners.

Note: See appendix table 17 for standard errors.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90% confidence level.
aSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a
standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the
number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime
Laboratories, 2014 and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

16

TABLE 14
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by proficiency and competency testing performed and jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizeb
100 or more FTE employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Any
97.9%

Blind
10.6%

Declared
97.9%

Proficiency testinga
Random case reanalysis
31.6%

Round robin/challenge testing
7.0%

Other
9.3%

Competency testing
86.8%

100%
100
96.6 †
95.1 †

26.4% !
1.9 !
10.9 !
15.2 !

100% †
98.2
97.7
96.6 ‡

30.2% !
43.3
24.0 †
24.4 †

23.2% !
4.6 !
5.7 !
3.4 !

22.9% !
5.6 !
13.3
1.6 !

93.9%
91.3
85.5 †
77.4 †

100%
100
100
98.6 †
92.0 †

7.8% !
24.4 !
10.8 !
7.7 !
6.8 !

97.5%
97.6
100 †
96.3
98.2

43.2%
42.4
32.6 †
28.5 †
20.4 †

16.0% !
8.8 !
6.0 !
5.5 !
3.5 !

7.5% !
8.5 !
10.7 !
10.9 !
7.2 !

100%
100
97.2 †
85.1 †
61.9 †

Note: Labs could conduct more than one type of proficiency testing. See appendix table 18 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison group is significant at the 90% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
aIncludes crime labs that reported performing proficiency testing of their analysts or examiners.
bSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the number of full-time employees plus half the number of parttime employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

17

78% of crime labs in 2020 performed technical
reviews on all their casework
Forensic crime laboratories can also perform technical
reviews of casework. A technical review is the evaluation
of reports, notes, data, or other documentation by a
qualified second party to ensure there is appropriate and
sufficient support for the actions, results, conclusions,
opinions, and interpretations in the casework. These
technical reviews can be conducted internally or by
other crime labs. Almost all (99%) crime labs technically
reviewed at least some of their casework in 2020, and
78% technically reviewed all their casework (table 15).
About 87% of federal and state labs technically reviewed
all casework, while 78% of county labs and 59% of
municipal labs did so.
More than 99% of crime labs had written standard
operating procedures (table 16). Most had management
system documents such as policy and objective
statements (97%) and performance verification checks
(97%). Most crime labs (95%) also had structured
training programs.

TABLE 15
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by
technical reviews performed and jurisdiction and size of
lab, 2020

All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizea
100 or more FTE
employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Some/all
casework
98.9%

Technically reviewed
All
Some
casework
casework
78.1%
20.8%

100%
100
97.7 †
98.2 †

87.1%
86.7
78.5 †
59.0 †

12.9% !
13.3
19.2 †
39.3 †

100%
100
100
98.6 †
96.7 †

81.5%
70.5 †
87.0 †
81.6
66.9 †

18.5% !
29.5
13.0 !
17.0
29.8

Note: See appendix table 19 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or
coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
aSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a
standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the
number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime
Laboratories, 2020.

TABLE 16
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by selected operational procedures and jurisdiction and size of
lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizeb
100 or more FTE employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Written standard
operating procedures
99.6%

Performance
verification checks
97.4%

Structured
training program
94.9%

Management
system documentsa
97.5%

100%
100
98.9 †
100

93.9% †
100
97.7 †
95.1 †

87.3% †
99.0
91.0 †
98.4

100% †
99.0
95.4 †
96.7 †

100%
100
100
100
98.4 †

100%
100
100
97.2 †
91.9 †

96.7%
100 †
96.9
97.5
85.4 †

100%
100
100
98.6 †
90.4 †

Note: See appendix table 20 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
aIncludes policy and objective statements.
bSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the number
of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

18

94% of crime labs had a written code of ethics
in 2020
Forensic crime laboratories typically have a written code
of ethical conduct to ensure that examiners and analysts
perform analyses within their area of expertise, provide
objective findings and testimony, and avoid conflicts
of interest. Crime labs may create their own or adopt
an existing code of ethics. In 2020, about 94% of all
crime labs had a written code of ethics: 14% created and
80% adopted their code of ethics (table 17). A greater
percentage of municipal labs (21%) than state labs (15%)
created their code of ethics. About 86% of crime labs
with fewer than 10 FTE employees maintained a code
of ethics, with 81% having adopted an existing code
of ethics.

TABLE 17
Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories with
a written code of ethics, by jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State*
County
Municipal
Sizea
100 or more FTE
employees**
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Had code
of ethics
94.3%

Created own
code of ethics
14.2%

Adopted existing
code of ethics
80.1%

90.2% †
96.0
95.5
92.2 †

9.3% !
14.9
10.6 !
20.9 †

80.9%
81.0
84.9 †
71.3 †

94.2%
96.9
95.6
98.6 †
85.8 †

17.7% !
18.9 !
14.4 !
17.5
4.8 !

76.5%
78.0
81.2 ‡
81.1 ‡
81.0 ‡

Note: See appendix table 21 for standard errors.
*Comparison group among lab jurisdictions.
**Comparison group among lab sizes.
†Difference with comparison group is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison group is significant at the 90% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or
coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
aSize is based on the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees in a
standalone lab or multilab system. The number of FTE employees is the
number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime
Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

19

Methodology
Overview
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has conducted the
Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories
(CPFFCL) periodically since 2002. The 2020 CPFFCL is
the fifth collection in the series, with RTI International
serving as the data collection agent. The CPFFCL
collects information on the workload, staffing, resources,
policies, and procedures of all federal, state, county, and
municipal forensic crime laboratories that are solely
funded by government or are overseen by a government
agency. The CPFFCL includes crime labs that employ one
or more full-time scientists (1) who possess a minimum
of a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, physics, biology,
criminalistics, forensic science, or a closely related field
and (2) whose principal functions are examining physical
evidence in criminal matters and providing reports and
testimony to courts of law with respect to such evidence.
Privately funded crime labs and agencies that engage
exclusively in evidence collection and documentation are
excluded from the CPFFCL.

BJS based the 2020 CPFFCL population frame on the
2014 CPFFCL, a list of Paul Coverdell laboratory grantees
provided by the National Institute of Justice, a list of
labs participating in Project FORESIGHT, and a list of
laboratories that conducted drug chemistry analyses
provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s
National Forensic Laboratory Information System
(NFLIS-Drug). BJS and RTI also conducted web searches
for lists of crime labs, such as those maintained by
state associations.
The 2020 CPFFCL was sent to every eligible crime lab
identified through these lists and directories. A total of
423 individual labs, constituting 326 standalone labs
and multilab systems, received the questionnaire. Ninety
percent (293) of standalone labs and multilab systems
responded to the CPFFCL, as did 90% (382) of individual
labs (table 18). Among standalone labs and multilab
systems, response rates ranged from 80% for federal labs
to 93% for state labs. Among individual labs, response
rates ranged from 80% for federal labs to 92% for state
labs. Findings in this report are based on data for the 326
standalone labs and multilab systems.

Data collection and response rate

Unit nonresponse and weighting

To update the data collection instrument, BJS and
RTI conducted a data quality review of the 2014
questionnaire. They also held a focus group meeting at
the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors
Symposium, an expert panel review, and a series of
cognitive interviews with participants from various
crime labs and levels of government. The data collection
instrument was provided to eligible crime labs as a webbased form, fillable PDF, and printable form that could
be mailed back to the project team.

To adjust for unit nonresponse, BJS calculated
nonresponse weights. Crime labs were divided into
weighting classes (or strata) based on their jurisdiction
(federal, state, county, or municipal) and number of fulltime-equivalent (FTE) employees (fewer than 10, 10 to
24, 25 to 49, and more than 50). In some cases, when
weighting classes were very small, they were combined
with similar classes to form a larger group. For example,
there were two federal labs with fewer than 10 FTE
employees in 2020, so these labs were combined with
federal labs that had 10 to 24 FTE employees. FBI labs

TABLE 18
Response rates of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab, 2020
Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

Eligible
326
40
113
102
71

Standalone labs/multilab systems
Responded
Response rate
293
89.9%
32
80.0
105
92.9
93
91.2
63
88.7

Eligible
423
40
208
103
72

Individual labs
Responded
382
32
192
94
64

Response rate
90.3%
80.0
92.3
91.3
88.9

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

20

and labs in U.S. territories each had their own weighting
class. For nonresponding crime labs, employee counts
from the 2014 or 2009 CPFFCL were used. If these were
unavailable, BJS and RTI conducted outreach and web
research to confirm the number of FTE employees.
The nonresponse adjustment weight was calculated
as follows:
wi =

∑1ni Ei
× Ri
∑1ni Ri

where:
ni = the number of laboratory types in weighting class i
Ei = 1 if laboratory n is eligible, 0 if ineligible
Ri = 1 if laboratory n is a respondent, 0 if
a nonrespondent.
This resulted in nonresponse adjustment weights for 17
weighting classes (table 19).
TABLE 19
Nonresponse adjustment weights for publicly funded
forensic crime laboratories, by stratum, 2020
Stratum
Federal
50 or more FTE employees
25–49
Fewer than 25
State
50 or more FTE employees
25–49
10–24
Fewer than 10
County
50 or more FTE employees
25–49
10–24
Fewer than 10
Municipal
50 or more FTE employees
25–49
10–24
Fewer than 10
FBI
U.S. territory

Nonresponse adjustment weight
1.3750
1.2500
1.2500
1.0270
1.1765
1.0294
1.1176
1.0625
1.0800
1.0435
1.1724

Comparability to prior reports
Except for estimates of staff size, budget, and workload,
2002, 2005, and 2009 CPFFCL findings in prior reports
were not adjusted for unit or item nonresponse. For
this report, data from earlier CPFFCL collections were
adjusted following the same procedures described in
Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories: Resources
and Services, 2014 (NCJ 250151, BJS, November 2016)
and Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories: Quality
Assurance Practices, 2014 (NCJ 250152, BJS, November
2016). BJS adjusted budget estimates for 2002, 2005,
2009, and 2014 to reflect 2020 dollars by using the
Federal Reserve Economic Data index titled Government
consumption expenditures and gross investment: State
and local (implicit price deflator) (https://fred.stlouisfed.
org/series/A829RD3A086NBEA).
Accuracy of estimates
Although the CPFFCL was designed as a census, due to
unit nonresponse and the use of nonresponse adjustment
weights, some error may have been generated when
producing estimates. Standard error estimates for this
report were produced using the IBM SPSS Complex
Samples package. The Taylor Series Linearization
method for a “stratified without replacement” design was
used for these calculations. (See the appendix tables for
standard error estimates.)
These standard error estimates may be used to
construct confidence intervals around percentages and
counts presented in this report. For example, the 95%
confidence interval around the percentage of crime labs
with a code of ethics in 2020 is 94.3% ± 1.96 × 0.52%,
resulting in a confidence interval of 93.3% to 95.3%.
The 95% confidence interval around the number of
requests for services received in 2020 is 3,346,000 ± 1.96
× 55,042, resulting in a confidence interval of 3,238,118
to 3,453,882. All comparisons discussed in this report
reflect statistically significant results.

1.0625
1.0769
1.2500
1.1111
1.0000
1.3333

Note: The number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees is the number of
full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

21

APPENDIX TABLE 1
Standard errors for table 1: Requests received and completed by publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by type of request, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Type of request
All requests
Controlled substances analysis
Crime scene analysis
Digital evidence analysis
DNA databasing
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis

2009
Number Percent
57,609
~
13,576
0.34%
3,471
0.09
824
0.02
57,036
1.42
1,611
0.04
2,088
0.05
478
0.01
2,462
0.06
2,103
0.05
14,100
0.35
1,662
0.04

Received
2014
Number Percent
56,050
~
35,034
0.93%
15,445
0.41
5,717
0.15
92,675
2.45
6,562
0.17
15,979
0.42
1,175
0.03
27,682
0.73
2,657
0.07
46,775
1.24
7,084
0.19

2020
Number
Percent
55,042
~
25,615
0.77%
13,431
0.40
4,683
0.14
50,820
1.52
10,643
0.32
10,368
0.31
3,638
0.11
7,297
0.22
216
0.01
48,699
1.46
4,732
0.14

2009
Number Percent
56,623
~
14,035
0.37%
3,469
0.09
816
0.02
56,036
1.46
1,391
0.04
2,074
0.05
543
0.01
2,457
0.06
1,801
0.05
13,305
0.35
1,668
0.04

Completed
2014
Number Percent
55,354
~
33,119
0.91%
15,468
0.42
5,760
0.16
99,145
2.72
5,346
0.15
6,465
0.18
1,184
0.03
28,055
0.77
2,451
0.07
45,821
1.26
6,609
0.18

Number
56,382
25,434
13,455
4,749
57,140
9,554
9,990
4,253
6,541
211
49,221
4,506

2020
Percent
~
0.79%
0.42
0.15
1.78
0.30
0.31
0.13
0.20
0.01
1.53
0.14

~Not applicable.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

22

APPENDIX TABLE 2
Standard errors for table 2: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab and forensic
function performed, 2020
Forensic function performed
Controlled substances analysis
Latent prints analysis
Print development
Comparisons analysis
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology
Forensic biology casework
Sexual assault casework
Probabilistic genotyping
Direct to DNA
DNA databasing of convicted person samples
DNA databasing of arrested person samples
Toxicology
Antemortem blood alcohol content analysis
Antemortem drug analysis
Postmortem analysis
Crime scene analysis
Evidence collection
Scene reconstruction
Trace evidence analysis
Fire debris analysis
Chemical unknown analysis
Paint analysis
Hair examination
Fiber examination
Gunshot residue testing
Explosives analysis
Impressions analysis
Footwear analysis
Tire tread analysis
Digital evidence analysis
Smartphone/tablet/mobile device analysis
Storage media analysis
Traditional cellphone analysis
Laptop/desktop computer analysis
Video analysis
GPS/navigation systems analysis
Audio files analysis
Cloud/server analysis
Questioned documents analysis

All crime labs
0.75%
0.77%
0.43
0.81
0.82%
0.75%
0.47
0.69
1.01
1.00
0.84
0.70
0.78%
0.65
1.15
1.14
0.87%
0.27
1.38
0.86%
1.40
1.21
1.36
1.37
1.36
1.19
1.25
0.77%
0.83
1.30
0.84%
1.23
1.29
1.63
1.85
2.14
2.17
2.25
2.08
0.59%

Federal
3.08%
3.55%
0.00
4.17
3.28%
3.28%
7.18
7.09
5.92
7.36
7.66
7.09
2.12%
13.04
0.00
0.00
3.86%
0.00
4.86
4.09%
6.54
0.00
6.54
6.27
6.54
3.50
6.27
2.60%
0.00
11.52
4.31%
3.51
3.51
3.51
4.82
7.41
6.67
7.83
6.37
3.60%

State
0.74%
1.01%
0.00
0.78
1.02%
0.86%
0.20
0.59
1.37
1.36
1.32
1.05
1.06%
0.63
1.43
1.46
1.22%
0.40
1.93
1.16%
1.33
1.64
1.54
1.58
1.54
1.50
1.53
1.05%
0.00
1.15
0.91%
3.10
2.62
3.10
3.52
3.22
3.08
2.83
2.49
0.70%

Jurisdiction
County
1.14%
1.49%
1.08
1.20
1.42%
1.15%
0.68
0.86
1.68
1.55
1.13
1.01
1.52%
1.23
2.01
2.22
1.48%
0.85
2.33
1.34%
2.20
2.31
2.24
2.30
2.22
2.31
1.57
1.32%
1.86
2.40
1.17%
2.24
0.00
3.13
3.13
3.13
3.69
3.70
3.71
0.58%

Municipal
2.13%
1.16%
1.01
1.40
1.98%
1.89%
1.15
0.00
2.90
2.77
0.84
1.15
1.96%
0.00
3.45
1.05
1.71%
0.00
2.70
1.72%
3.69
3.63
2.97
3.64
3.33
3.44
2.41
2.01%
2.45
3.26
1.92%
1.05
2.62
3.07
3.13
3.07
3.31
3.47
3.59
1.08%

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

23

APPENDIX TABLE 3
Standard errors for table 3: Percent of requests received by publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction
of lab and type of request, 2020
Type of request
Controlled substances analysis
Crime scene analysis
Digital evidence analysis
DNA databasing
Arrested person samples
Convicted person samples
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology
Sexual assault casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis

All crime labs
0.77%
0.40%
0.14%
1.52%
2.02
0.54
0.32%
0.31%
0.10
0.11%
0.22%
0.01%
1.46%
0.14%

Federal
5.83%
0.54%
0.56%
0.00%
0.06
0.00
0.66%
0.31%
0.00
0.00%
0.95%
0.05%
0.00%
0.22%

State
0.82%
0.32%
0.12%
2.49%
3.40
0.91
0.34%
0.30%
0.15
0.00%
0.20%
0.01%
1.49%
0.22%

Jurisdiction

County
1.69%
0.96%
0.12%
0.55%
0.56
0.02
0.46%
0.70%
0.10
0.01%
0.37%
0.01%
5.81%
0.27%

Municipal
1.70%
2.12%
0.80%
2.59%
0.00
0.00
1.59%
1.53%
0.29
0.78%
1.10%
0.02%
1.53%
0.05%

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 4
Standard errors for table 4: Backlogged requests in publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by type of request,
yearend 2009, 2014, and 2020
Type of backlogged request
All requests
Controlled substances analysis
Digital evidence analysis
DNA databasing of arrested/convicted
person samples
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis

Yearend 2009
Number
Percent
10,124
~
2,848
0.32%
97
0.01
8,961
997
1,172
914
693
518
931
153

1.00
0.11
0.13
0.10
0.08
0.06
0.10
0.02

Yearend 2014
Number
Percent
12,693
~
14,860
2.61%
198
0.03

Yearend 2020
Number
Percent
59,244
~
17,172
2.42%
282
0.04

14,746
4,182
5,477
512
4,983
237
5,680
796

27,739
42,260
8,054
98
4,113
57
5,174
769

2.59
0.73
0.96
0.09
0.87
0.04
1.00
0.14

3.90
5.94
1.13
0.01
0.58
0.01
0.73
0.11

~Not applicable.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

24

APPENDIX TABLE 5
Estimates and standard errors for figure 3: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories that outsourced
requests, by jurisdiction of lab, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

2002
40.3% †
16.7 !
31.0 †
60.7 †
63.9 †

2005
46.6%
/
39.2 †
68.0 †
56.8 †

Estimate
2009
27.6% †
20.6 !
22.8 †
40.0 †
31.1 †

2014
37.8% †
27.5 !
22.7 †
53.7 †
59.9 †

2020*
47.4%
35.2
51.0
46.6
50.0

2002
0.88%
2.80
1.20
1.82
2.35

2005
1.14%
~
0.36
1.03
2.26

Standard error
2009
0.40%
2.10
0.45
0.70
1.26

2014
0.92%
5.18
0.59
1.91
2.92

2020
0.93%
4.17
1.19
1.45
2.12

*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
~Not applicable.
/The federal 2005 estimate is not shown separately due to a low response rate, but is included in the 2005 estimate for all crime labs.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 6
Standard errors for table 5: Percent of publicly funded
forensic crime laboratories that outsourced requests, by
type of request, 2020
Type of outsourced request
Controlled substances analysis
Crime scene analysis
Digital evidence analysis
Firearms/toolmarks analysis
Forensic biology
Forensic biology casework
DNA databasing of arrested person samples
DNA databasing of convicted person samples
Sexual assault casework
Impressions analysis
Latent prints analysis
Questioned documents analysis
Toxicology
Trace evidence analysis

Percent
1.26%
0.60%
1.42%
1.17%
1.24%
1.59
2.93
2.50
0.96
0.92%
1.17%
1.13%
1.34%
1.34%

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

25

APPENDIX TABLE 7
Estimates and standard errors for figure 4: Number of full-time-equivalent employees in publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories, by jurisdiction of lab, yearend 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

2002
11,000 †
2,000 †
5,300 †
1,900 †
1,900 †

2005
12,200 †
2,400 !
5,600 †
2,200 †
2,000 †

Yearend estimate
2009
13,100 †
2,300
6,100 †
2,500 †
2,200 †

2014
14,300 †
2,100 †
6,600 ‡
2,900
2,700 †

2020*
15,600
2,700
6,800
3,000
3,200

2002
102
68
58
48
7

2005
387
376
40
54
61

Standard error
2009
2014
105
123
97
59
39
66
7
17
7
84

2020
263
227
81
58
88

Note: The number of full-time-equivalent employees is the number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees. Counts are
rounded to the nearest hundred. Details may not sum to totals due to rounding.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90% confidence level.
! Interpret with caution. Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 8
Standard errors for table 6: Percent of full-time-equivalent employees in publicly funded forensic crime laboratories,
by jurisdiction of lab and type of employee, 2020
Type of employee
Analyst/examiner
In training
Full performance
Managerial
Clerical/administrative
Crime scene technician
Technical support
Other
Total number of FTE employees

All crime labs
1.07%
0.11
1.05
0.27%
0.14%
0.21%
0.16%
0.49%
263

Federal
5.06%
0.22
5.10
1.45%
0.67%
0.80%
0.68%
2.72%
227

State
0.81%
0.13
0.78
0.18%
0.16%
0.10%
0.21%
0.15%
81

Jurisdiction

County
1.35%
0.36
1.32
0.29%
0.18%
0.42%
0.21%
0.35%

Municipal
2.14%
0.28
2.02
0.35%
0.17%
0.65%
0.30%
0.63%

58

88

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

26

APPENDIX TABLE 9
Standard errors for table 7: Full-time-equivalent employees, hires, separations, and job vacancies in publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction
and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

FTE employees
Number
Percent
263
~

Number
27

Hires
Percent
~

Separations
Number
Percent
21
~

Net change
Number
Percent
20
~

Job vacancies
Number
Percent
81
~

227
81
58
88

1.45%
0.52
0.37
0.56

19
10
7
16

1.55%
0.86
0.59
1.30

10
8
9
14

0.92%
0.72
0.80
1.21

13
10
7
8

15.56%
12.44
8.65
9.37

77
16
9
14

5.05%
1.07
0.59
0.93

321
74
31
21
8

2.05%
0.48
0.20
0.13
0.05

28
7
8
5
3

2.33%
0.58
0.63
0.42
0.22

21
8
8
4
3

1.89%
0.70
0.72
0.36
0.22

15
7
10
5
3

17.29%
8.52
12.27
6.40
3.33

80
14
14
8
3

5.26%
0.92
0.91
0.50
0.18

~Not applicable.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 10
Standard errors for table 8: Number of full-time-equivalent employees
in and requests received by publicly funded forensic crime laboratories,
by jurisdiction of lab, 2019 and 2020
Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

FTE employees
2019
2020
282
263
224
227
131
81
62
58
91
88

2019
69,181
16,327
54,571
35,495
16,778

Requests

2020
55,042
13,359
47,770
20,864
11,571

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

27

APPENDIX TABLE 11
Standard errors for table 9: Annual operating budgets of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by jurisdiction
and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Total operating budget
$64,781,748

Average operating budget
Per standalone lab/multilab system
Per request
$218,652
$17

$19,143,274
$57,433,988
$14,644,099
$17,807,225

$481,592
$619,662
$146,948
$277,427

$91
$25
$20
$34

$47,582,145
$20,660,165
$32,919,534
$37,769,597
$6,949,722

$886,302
$370,310
$446,296
$474,086
$108,139

$20
$30
$24
$152
$76

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 12
Estimates and standard errors for figure 5: Annual operating budgets of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by
jurisdiction of lab, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

2002
$1,769,515,000 †
$505,469,000 †
$781,380,000 †
$292,388,000 †
$190,279,000 †

2005
$1,738,446,000
/
$777,352,000 †
$353,812,000 †
$195,085,000 †

Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

2002
$32,001,208
$24,755,481
$17,738,490
$9,525,450
$2,419,751

2005
$139,635,810
~
$5,813,915
$8,474,214
$5,085,577

Estimate
2009
$2,003,455,000
$450,705,000 †
$870,581,000 †
$402,733,000 †
$279,436,000 †
Standard error
2009
$20,492,055
$18,553,759
$8,367,921
$1,766,400
$1,593,766

2014
$1,886,652,000
$338,739,000 †
$893,342,000 †
$343,124,000 †
$311,446,000
2014
$31,060,156
$26,639,949
$9,062,280
$4,629,195
$12,308,210

2020*
$1,988,285,000
$219,296,000
$1,008,837,000
$440,603,000
$319,548,000
2020
$64,781,748
$19,143,274
$57,433,988
$14,644,099
$17,807,225

Note: Estimates are adjusted to 2020 dollars and may differ from previously reported statistics.
*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
~Not applicable.
/The federal 2005 estimate is not shown separately due to a low response rate, but is included in the 2005 estimate for all crime labs.
Source: Bureau of justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

28

APPENDIX TABLE 13
Standard errors for table 10: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by selected types of funding
received and jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Asset forfeitures
0.82%

Donations
0.31%

Fees
0.81%

Federal grants
0.67%

State/local grants
0.81%

3.81%
0.90
1.20
2.05

0.00%
0.79
0.00
0.65

2.54%
1.17
1.58
1.72

2.12%
0.49
1.30
1.98

2.12%
1.27
1.47
1.94

1.43%
2.44
1.86
1.37
1.83

0.94%
0.99
0.80
0.44
0.50

1.59%
2.24
1.72
1.39
2.16

1.72%
1.41
0.99
1.47
2.08

1.84%
1.55
1.73
1.51
2.19

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 14
Estimates and standard errors for figure 6: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories with a laboratory
information management system, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020
Jurisdiction
All crime labs
Federal
State
County
Municipal

2002
75.3% †
76.5 †
87.7 †
69.2 †
32.0 †

2005
77.4% †
/
90.4 †
70.5 †
44.4 †

Estimate
2009
84.0% †
76.4 †
97.2 †
75.5 †
56.0 †

2014
86.1%
87.4
98.3 ‡
82.6
60.4 †

2020*
87.4%
87.6
99.0
84.8
72.9

2002
0.84%
3.85
1.00
1.88
2.35

2005
1.14%
~
0.26
1.36
2.67

Standard error
2009
0.37%
2.39
0.15
0.77
1.40

*Comparison year.
†Difference with comparison year is significant at the 95% confidence level.
‡Difference with comparison year is significant at the 90% confidence level.
~Not applicable.
/The federal 2005 estimate is not shown separately due to a low response rate, but is included in the 2005 estimate for all crime labs.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 15
Standard errors for table 11: Percent of publicly funded
forensic crime laboratories with resources directed
primarily to research, by jurisdiction and size of lab,
2002, 2009, 2014, and 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE
employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

2002
0.78%

2009
0.26%

2014
0.56%

2020
0.57%

7.02%
0.69
1.25
0.21

2.25%
0.28
0.34
0.01

4.89%
0.46
0.78
0.49

2.78%
0.59
1.11
0.92

3.55%
2.17
1.37
1.58
1.37

2.32%
1.50
0.43
0.35
0.15

3.09%
2.68
1.42
0.23
1.19

1.64%
1.25
1.50
0.86
1.25

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2002, 2009, 2014, and 2020.

2014
0.75%
3.13
0.31
1.47
2.97

2020
0.67%
2.77
0.32
1.15
1.94

APPENDIX TABLE 16
Standard errors for table 12: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by selected employee safety and wellness resources and jurisdiction and
size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Any resource
0.24%

Behavior/stress
management
0.53%

Employee
assistance programs
0.34%

Mental
health debriefing
0.83%

Proactive
resiliency programs
0.92%

Web-based resources
0.50%

0.00%
0.15
0.74
0.00

1.63%
0.52
1.34
0.79

1.36%
0.15
0.94
0.00

3.91%
1.01
1.50
1.51

3.89%
1.18
1.54
2.10

0.00%
0.51
1.30
1.04

0.00%
0.38
0.00
0.00
1.04

1.56%
0.78
1.07
0.87
1.66

0.00%
0.69
0.38
0.66
1.18

1.62%
2.31
1.64
1.52
2.14

1.65%
2.67
2.04
1.75
2.21

0.41%
0.88
0.95
0.75
1.66

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 17
Standard errors for table 13: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories accredited by a professional organization, by jurisdiction and
size of lab, 2014 and 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

2014
0.68%

2020
0.58%

2.89%
0.25
1.17
2.81

1.85%
0.44
1.19
1.58

0.00%
0.00
0.00
1.44
1.88

0.62%
0.00
0.00
1.07
2.14

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2014
and 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

30

APPENDIX TABLE 18
Standard errors for table 14: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by proficiency and competency testing performed and jurisdiction and size
of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Proficiency testing
Random case reanalysis
0.80%

Any
0.32%

Blind
0.64%

Declared
0.26%

0.00%
0.00
0.74
1.04

3.60%
0.22
0.85
1.68

0.00%
0.22
0.50
0.91

3.34%
1.27
1.17
1.72

0.00%
0.00
0.00
0.62
1.24

1.03%
2.60
1.38
1.08
1.09

0.41%
0.58
0.00
0.70
0.68

1.82%
2.24
1.98
1.32
1.68

Round robin/challenge testing
0.59%

Other
0.62%

Competency testing
0.64%

3.87%
0.33
0.80
0.91

3.92%
0.36
1.08
0.43

1.79%
0.69
1.20
1.82

1.83%
2.18
1.11
1.15
0.94

0.70%
2.14
1.46
0.95
1.37

0.00%
0.00
0.53
1.38
2.18

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 19
Standard errors for table 15: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime
laboratories, by technical reviews performed and jurisdiction and size of
lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Some/all casework
0.26%

Technically reviewed
All casework
0.76%

Some casework
0.73%

0.00%
0.00
0.61
0.79

2.75%
0.83
1.26
2.12

2.75%
0.83
1.17
2.05

0.00%
0.00
0.00
0.62
0.87

1.79%
2.16
1.41
1.36
2.03

1.79%
2.16
1.41
1.29
1.91

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

31

APPENDIX TABLE 20
Standard errors for table 16: Percent of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories, by selected operational procedures
and jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Written standard
operating procedures
0.14%

Performance
verification checks
0.37%

Structured
training program
0.52%

Management
system documents
0.35%

0.00%
0.00
0.44
0.00

1.79%
0.00
0.61
1.04

2.98%
0.32
1.04
0.49

0.00%
0.32
0.83
0.93

0.00%
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.62

0.00%
0.00
0.00
0.87
1.31

1.69%
0.00
0.91
0.66
1.68

0.00%
0.00
0.00
0.62
1.37

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2020.

APPENDIX TABLE 21
Standard errors for table 17: Percent of publicly funded
forensic crime laboratories with a written code of ethics,
by jurisdiction and size of lab, 2020
All crime labs
Jurisdiction
Federal
State
County
Municipal
Size
100 or more FTE
employees
50–99
25–49
10–24
9 or fewer

Had code
of ethics
0.52%

Created own Adopted existing
code of ethics code of ethics
0.63%
0.80%

2.67%
0.66
0.79
0.97

2.45%
0.76
0.90
1.83

3.63%
0.96
1.16
2.04

1.70%
1.62
0.88
0.62
1.50

1.24%
1.29
1.50
1.45
1.00

1.84%
2.04
1.69
1.57
1.71

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2020.

P U B L I C LY F U N D E D F O R E N S I C C R I M E L A B O R ATO R I E S , 2020 | D E C E M B E R 2023

32

The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice is the
principal federal agency responsible for measuring crime, criminal
victimization, criminal offenders, victims of crime, correlates of crime, and the
operation of criminal and civil justice systems at the federal, state, tribal, and
local levels. BJS collects, analyzes, and disseminates reliable statistics on crime
and justice systems in the United States, supports improvements to state and
local criminal justice information systems, and participaates with national and
international organizations to develop and recommend national standards for
justice statistics. Kevin M. Scott, PhD, is the acting director.
This report was written by Connor Brooks. Elizabeth J. Davis verified
the report.
Edrienne Su edited the report. Jeffrey Link produced the report.
December 2023, NCJ 306473

i

11111111111 1111m
NCJ 306473

Office of Justice Programs
Building Solutions • Supporting Communities • Advancing Justice
www.ojp.gov

 

 

Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual - Side
Advertise Here 4th Ad
CLN Subscribe Now Ad 450x600