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WIREs Forensic Sci

Toward a cost–benefit analysis of quality programs in digital forensic laboratories in the United States

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Abstract There are few quantitative metrics to help evaluate the adoption of quality measures from a laboratory funder's standpoint. This article synthesizes existing data to create a simple prototype for a model to anticipate the costs or savings associated with implementing a quality program, including accreditation, in a digital forensic laboratory. Digital forensic laboratories were selected as an area of interest, as the field is largely unregulated in the United States, there are disparities in the qualifications of practitioners, and there is no empirical understanding of how frequently error occurs in the discipline. The model is used to determine under what conditions there may be anticipated overall financial savings, assuming an annual case throughput of ncases and a lowered frequency of miscarriages of justice, associated with properly implementing an accredited quality system, given by F. While this model does not account for the human cost associated with miscarriages of justice, it demonstrates that the cost of a robust quality system may prove cheaper than the risk and cost associated with the negative outcomes stemming from miscarriages of justice. Under the parameters used for testing, only under two realistic conditions will the implementation of a quality system never realize a benefit: when the cost of a wrongful conviction is relatively small and when forensic error leads to wrongful conviction on the order of 1 in 100,000 cases or less. In all other scenarios, it is possible that, under realistic conditions, laboratory funders may realize savings by implementing an accredited quality program. This article is categorized under: Jurisprudence and Regulatory Oversight > Interdisciplinary Collaboration  Digital and Multimedia Science > Forensic Visualization
(a) The breakeven point where anticipated costs equal anticipated benefits as a function of the model chosen and the anticipated reduction of error, (b) the breakeven point using simplified probabilities of a sentinel event ranging between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 100,000, and the output of the (c) minimum model, (d) middle model, and (e) maximum model for 0–2,000 cases and anticipated error reduction ranging between 10% and 50%
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Digital and Multimedia Science > Forensic Visualization
Jurisprudence and Regulatory Oversight > Interdisciplinary Collaboration 

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