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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
be processed by hand. With the introduction of IAFIS, prints and pictures can be submitted electronically.
According to the 2005 BJS census, the FBI laboratory began 2003 with an estimated backlog of 3,062 requests for forensic services. About two-thirds of the backlog was attributable to latent print requests. During 2003, the FBI laboratory received 6,994 new requests and completed 7,403 requests. The estimated year end backlog was 2,653 requests, a 13 percent reduction over the previous year. Latent print requests comprised half of the year end 2003 backlog. No data were provided in the 2005 census.
By the end of the first quarter of 2004, the FBI Laboratory reported a total backlog of 2,585 requests. This included 1,216 latent print requests, or 47 percent of the total. The FBI Laboratory reported a need for additional equipment and 249 additional FTEs in order to have achieved a 30-day turnaround on all 2003 requests. The cost of the additional equipment was estimated to be $40 million. Based on starting salaries for analyst/examiners, the estimated cost of the additional FTEs exceeds $17.5 million.
The FBI Laboratory also has working partnerships with the forensic science community’s Scientific Working Groups (SWGs) that are tasked with generating guidelines and standards for specific forensic disciplines (see Chapter 7). The FBI also provides training for the forensic science community and conducts and funds research (see later discussion).
In addition, the FBI collects and maintains data and materials for multiple databases and registries (see Box 2-1). The largest is CODIS, which is composed of three components: the forensic database, the missing persons database, and the convicted felon database. The FBI CODIS Unit is responsible for developing, providing, and supporting the CODIS Program to federal, state, and local crime laboratories in the United States and selected international law enforcement crime laboratories to foster the exchange and comparison of forensic DNA evidence from violent crime investigations. The CODIS Unit also provides administrative management and support to the FBI for various advisory boards, Department of Justice (DOJ) grant programs, and legislation regarding DNA.
U.S. Secret Service (Department of Homeland Security [DHS])
The U.S. Secret Service laboratory examines evidence, develops investigative leads, and provides expert courtroom testimony. As part of the 1994 Crime Bill (P.L. 103-322), Congress mandated that the U.S. Secret Service provide forensic/technical assistance in matters involving missing and exploited children. On April 30, 2003, President George W. Bush signed the PROTECT Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-21), known as the “Amber Alert Bill,” which gave full authorization to the U.S. Secret Service in this area. The