The expectation for those receiving grants is “demonstrated improvement over current operations in the quality and/or timeliness of forensic science or medical examiner services provided in the state, including services provided by laboratories operated by the state and services provided by laboratories operated by units of local government within the State.”23 The output measures for Coverdell awards are:
Change in the number of days between submission of a sample to a forensic science laboratory and delivery of test results to a requesting office or agency.
The number of backlogged forensic cases analyzed with Coverdell funds, if applicable to the grant.
The number of forensic science or medical examiner personnel who completed appropriate training or educational opportunities with Coverdell funds, if applicable to the grant.24
States may be eligible for both “base” (formula) and competitive funds from NIJ for forensic science programs. Units of local government within states may be eligible for competitive funds and may apply directly to NIJ. The Coverdell law (42 U.S.C. § 3797k(4)) requires that, to request a grant, an applicant for Coverdell funds must submit:
A certification and description regarding a plan for forensic science laboratories.
A certification regarding use of generally accepted laboratory practices.
A certification and description regarding costs of new facilities.
A certification regarding external investigations into allegations of serious negligence or misconduct.
Program funding was $10 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, $15 million in FY 2005, and $18.5 million in FY 2006. Funds may be used for personnel, computerization, laboratory equipment, supplies, accreditation, education, training, certification, or facilities.
Many forensic examiners do not work in a traditional crime laboratory. Often they work within law enforcement offices in units called “identifica-