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The NIJ Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group - Progress to Date and Future Plans

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2019

Recognizing the challenges posed in the adoption of new technologies and other innovations in forensic science organizations, the US. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) established the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG) in 2018 to provide a forum within which forensic practitioners and researchers can develop coordinated approaches in technology implementation; this “in-brief” summarizes FLN-TWG’s goals and outputs of the first meeting and lists programs and resources that can promote technology adoption by crime laboratories.


FLN-TWG’s membership consists of crime laboratory directors/managers and academic researchers, who meet regularly to share ideas, assess the impact of new technologies on the criminal justice system, and identify paths forward for implementation. FLN-TWG’s mandate encompasses the full range of needs facing federal, state, local, and tribal jurisdictions. Part of its mission is to clear “roadblocks” that have prevented the broad, effective adoption of promising forensic technologies. The FLN-TWG meeting that is the focus of the current report occurred October 2-3, 2018; and was scheduled to discuss technical and applied research needs for a variety of forensic disciplines. The meeting included presentations from several crime-laboratory representatives and representatives from various federal agencies, who described current initiatives that may benefit state and local crime laboratories and inform the FLN-TWG agenda. Among the topics discussed were drugs and toxicology; DOJ priorities, forensic science policies, and grant programs; firearms examination technology and initiatives; advanced biological and DNA technologies; and sexual assault kit (SAK) tracking metrics and definitions. The FLN-TWG discussed the technology needs of forensic laboratories and the criminal justice system in general. Innovative solutions considered focused on technology transition, information exchange, and training and capacity building of the forensic science infrastructure. 1 table and a list of additional resources