The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program (the Coverdell Program) awards grants to states and units of local government to help improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner/coroner services.
A state or unit of local government that receives a Coverdell grant must use the grant for one or more of these six purposes:
- To carry out all or a substantial part of a program intended to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science or medical examiner/coroner services in the state, including those services provided by laboratories operated by the state and those operated by units of local government within the state.
- To eliminate a backlog in the analysis of forensic science evidence, including, among other things, a backlog with respect to firearms examination, latent prints, toxicology, controlled substances, forensic pathology, questioned documents, and trace evidence.
- To train, assist, and employ forensic laboratory personnel, as needed, to eliminate such a backlog.
- To address emerging forensic science issues (such as statistics, contextual bias, and uncertainty of measurement) and emerging forensic science technology (such as high throughput automation, statistical software, and new types of instrumentation).
- To educate and train forensic pathologists.
- To fund medicolegal death investigation systems to facilitate the accreditation of medical examiner and coroner offices and the certification of medicolegal death investigators.
Why This Matters
The Coverdell Program assists forensic science laboratories and medical examiner/coroner’s offices to improve their services that are often crucial to the outcome of criminal cases. This program provides flexibility in funding a wide-ranging set of activities performed by approximately 400 publicly funded forensic laboratories in the United States and its territories.
The Coverdell Program supports forensic scientists to receive needed training to comply with certification requirements, as well as for forensic science service provider facilities to obtain and retain accreditation. It provides support to smaller jurisdictions to acquire current technology that they otherwise could not afford and to larger jurisdictions to meet continually growing demands. It supports laboratories in modernizing and maintaining needed analytical equipment and instrumentation. Moreover, the Coverdell Program provides laboratories and medical examiners/coroners with resources to battle the escalating opioid and synthetic drug epidemic.