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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
gists, technology experts, and crime laboratory personnel. The bulk of the funding has gone to state and local law enforcement agencies to support the examination of nearly 104,000 DNA cases from 2004 to 2007 and 2,500,000 convicted offender and arrestee samples, which will be added to the national DNA database. More than 5,000 “hits,” or matches to unknown profiles or other cases, have resulted from these efforts. In 2008, NIJ expects to fund the testing of an additional 9,000 backlogged cases and more that 834,000 backlogged convicted offender and arrestee samples.40
Under the General Forensics R&D Program, 53 awards have been made through 2007 for the development of “tools and technologies that will allow faster, more reliable, more robust, less costly, or less labor-intensive identification, collection, preservation, and/or analysis of forensic evidence; tools that provide a quantitative measure or statistical evaluation of forensic comparisons; and identification or characterization of new analytes of forensic importance.”41 In FY 2007, solicitations were issued for proposals in Research and Development on Crime Scene Tools, Techniques, and Technologies; Research and Development on Impression Evidence; Research and Development in the Forensic Analysis of Fire and Arson Evidence; and Forensic Toxicology Research and Development.
The size of the NIJ research program warrants comparison with other research programs. In FY 2007, NIJ awarded 21 grants for forensic research and development (not including awards for DNA research) (see Box 2-2). As will be seen in Chapter 5, the number of open research questions about the more common forensic science methods greatly exceeds 21, and none of these open questions appear to be squarely addressed by the projects listed in Box 2-2. The 2007 NIJ awards totaled nearly $6.6 million, with an average award size of $314,000. As a comparison, in the same year, the National Institutes of Health awarded 37,275 research project grants, averaging $359,000, for a total of $15 billion.42 Also in FY 2007, the National Science Foundation made over 11,500 research project awards for a total of $6.0 billion.43
NIJ’s Forensic Resource Network is a system of four forensic centers whose mission is to assist state and local forensic service providers in achieving their service delivery goals through research and development, testing and evaluation, training, technology transfer, and technology assistance.
The NIJ Electronic Crime Portfolio addresses “the practical needs of the criminal justice community in its efforts to respond to electronic crime,
Statement of J.S. Morgan, Deputy Director National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary concerning “Oversight of the Justice For All Act: Has the Justice Department Effectively Administered the Bloodsworth and Coverdell DNA Grant Programs?” January 23, 2008.