Federal Forensic Science Laboratories

The largest publicly funded forensic laboratory in the country is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. Other federal agencies have smaller crime laboratories, for example, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Army, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (known as ATF), the U.S. Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducts research in support of standard setting for gunshot residue analysis, trace explosives detectors, DNA analysis, and more. Some of these efforts are described below.

The FBI Laboratory

The types of cases investigated by the FBI include terrorism, espionage, public corruption, civil rights, criminal organizations and enterprises, white collar crime, and violent crime. Investigative case work services include those involving:

  • chemistry

  • cryptanalysis and racketeering records

  • DNA analysis

  • explosives

  • evidence response

  • firearms-toolmarks

  • hazardous materials

  • investigative and prosecutive graphics

  • latent prints

  • photographic operations and imaging services

  • questioned documents

  • structural design

  • trace evidence

  • specialty units

According to the 2005 BJS report, the FBI Laboratory had approximately 600 employees in 2005, and it partners with state and local crime laboratories throughout the country. Its FY 2007 budget was $63 million. The FBI Laboratory provides a full range of forensic services and handles a large volume of fingerprint work, receiving approximately 50,000 fingerprint submissions every day. In July 1999, the FBI updated its fingerprint databases with the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Previously, all prints arrived on paper fingerprint cards that had to

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