Publications in the Business of Forensics

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

Expanding Budgets via Strategic Use of Leasing, Forensic Science Policy and Management: An International Journal, forthcoming, William P. McAndrew & Paul J. Speaker.

Abstract: An examination of the budgets of forensic laboratories reveals an unused or underused tool at the disposal of forensic laboratories. Equipment leasing offers an opportunity for a unilateral increase in the purchasing power of existing laboratory budgets and an immediate response to austerity measures.  Rather than react to budget tightening with reductions in force, shared furloughs, or the forfeiture of unfilled positions, a laboratory director can forestall such measures and even see an effective increase in disposable income through a planned use of operating leases.  If a public laboratory makes an equipment purchase, the cost to the laboratory will be the full list price from the equipment supplier.  However, when a private laboratory makes the same equipment purchase, it pays the supplier the full list price, but is able to deduct the expense from its income when it calculates its corporate income tax and ends up with a final expense, net of taxes, that is considerably less than the cost to the public laboratory.  Leasing offers the opportunity for a private entity to purchase equipment and pass on some of the tax savings to the public laboratory through an operating lease. In this manuscript the leasing gains are explained and accompanied by a detailed example to illustrate the potential magnitudes of the gains. In this example, a representative laboratory is shown to experience nearly a twenty-five percent gain from the lease compared to the expense of a direct purchase.



Developing New Business Models for Forensic Laboratories, Chapter 13 in Forensic Science and the Administration of Justice, Kevin J. Strom & Matthew J. Hickman editors, Max M. Houck & Paul J. Speaker, April 2014.

Abstract: Forensic service providers inhabit a unique, central place in the criminal justice system. Stakeholders in the forensic enterprise abound, from law enforcement to attorneys to the courts and even the public they all serve. The public orientation of these services and stakeholders necessitates forensic managers rely on providing sound performance at a reasonable cost. Certainly, the laboratory's jurisdiction will judge them on criteria such as accuracy, timeliness, and cost. Too much emphasis on quantitative outcomes, however, can create an imbalance that ignores longer-term issues, such as quality and value. Thus, efficiency, the extent to which time and effort are used to produce the desired outcome, can be mistaken for effectiveness, the attainment of that desired outcome, but they are intimately connected.



American Academy of Forensic Sciences

The Hidden Costs of Backlog Reduction, ASCLD Executive Education Digest – forthcoming 2013, Volume 2, Paul J. Speaker.

Abstract: Over the 2008 – 2012 federal fiscal years, the federal government poured nearly $700 million into efforts to reduce backlog in DNA casework. While this significant investment in forensic science services highlights the direct accounting cost of the backlog reduction programs, the amount understates the opportunity costs from the initiative. When funding is directed towards one particular activity, say DNA backlog reduction, that action leads to reactions in other areas that must be considered in an assessment of the costs and benefits of the program.  Such related activity includes the direct costs as well as the indirect costs to the laboratory, including expenses in the preparation for outsourcing, opportunity costs from the redirection of laboratory activity, increases in the demand for laboratory services, and any loss in efficiency in the reallocation of scarce resources.



American Academy of Forensic Sciences

The Effects of Politics on Job Satisfaction in Crime Lab Employees, Forensic Science Policy and Management: An International Journal Volume 3, Issue 4, 2012, David Dawley & Timothy P. Munyun, pages 159 – 164.

Abstract: This study examined the effects of crime lab workers’ perceptions of intra-lab politics on job satisfaction. In addition to finding that political behavior reduces employee job satisfaction, the study also identified ways in which crime lab managers can mitigate the negative effects of political behavior, increasing employee job satisfaction when political behavior is high within a given unit. Data collected from 874 employees at twelve FORESIGHT laboratories suggest that increasing crime lab worker job autonomy, job efficiency, strategic vision, and task significance are especially effective interventions that increase job satisfaction when political behavior is high. We discuss practical implications of these findings for crime lab managers. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how perceived political behavior affects the job satisfaction, or morale, of crime lab workers. The study was motivated by several interactions we had with forensic crime lab managers at the 2013 American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD) meeting. In ASCLD human resources and FORESIGHT meetings, we received consistent inquiries concerning the potential role of organizational politics as a detrimental factor on employee attitudes. These conversations highlight the unfortunate ubiquity of political behavior at work, including work in crime labs. Organizational politics often create disharmony among employees and can negatively affect employee job satisfaction and other attitudes (Breaux et al. 2009; Ferris et al. 1996). Thus, we sought to explore how political behavior affects the job satisfaction of crime lab employees, and potential managerial strategies that could be useful in mitigating for this potential negative effect.



American Academy of Forensic Sciences

Are Forensic Science Services Club Goods? An Analysis of the Optimal Forensic Science Service Delivery Model, Forensic Science Policy and Management: An International Journal Volume 3, Issue 4, 2012, William P. McAndrew, pages 151 – 158.

Abstract: Forensic science has been described as a public good by practitioners, legal professionals, and scholars, many of whom were suggesting that forensic science is simply something good for the public. It would indeed be difficult to argue otherwise. In an economic sense, the concept of a public good is defined differently from this colloquial meaning, however, leading to confusion in discussions between forensic scientists and business consultants concerning how to evaluate laboratory performance and ultimately consider strategic change from an economic or efficiency perspective. This article discusses what economists mean by a public or private good, with an application using the forensic science industry. Forensic science is likely neither a purely public or purely private good, but rather a club good that contains a degree of both the public and private. When calculated, the degree of publicness of this club good will aid in determining the appropriate institutional framework from which to provide forensic science services, as well as its optimal jurisdiction size and production level.



American Academy of Forensic Sciences

Determinants of Turnover Intentions, Helping, and Knowledge Sharing in Crime Laboratories, Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Volume XIX, David Dawley, February 2013, p.230.

Abstract: Forensic scientists are knowledge workers and are a laboratory’s single greatest enduring expense. Therefore, it is imperative for forensic managers to find ways to retain employees, share knowledge, and create a cohesive, coherent team perspective. Based on a discussion with a group of FORESIGHT forensic laboratory directors in 2011, four major areas of research interest were identified: (1) reducing employee turnover; (2) increasing employees’ helping behaviors with colleagues; (3) knowledge sharing among employees; and, (4) creating and disseminating a strategic vision to all employees.



American Academy of Forensic Sciences

Improving the Effectiveness of Forensic Service: Using the Foresight Project as a Platform for Quality, Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Volume XIX, Max M. Houck, Jay W. Henry, and Paul J. Speaker, February 2013, p.21.

Abstract: Forensic service providers are—in essence—non-profit, production-oriented organizations staffed largely by knowledge workers. Forensic scientists as knowledge workers take evidence and data and convert them into knowledge in the form of reports and testimony. They specialize in these transactions and, therefore, simplify them for the benefit of the criminal justice system; the investigators or attorneys do not need to find numerous individuals to conduct the specific examinations required for a case. As long as the costs of providing these services externally do not exceed the costs of their internal provision, for example, by a government forensic laboratory, then the organization can prosper. If the government laboratory costs are greater than the cost of finding private laboratories to provide services, then the organization may be reevaluated. Comparatively, non-profit and for-profit organizations are similar in some ways (money is an input for both) yet different (money, in the form of profits, is an output only for the private sector). Non-profits must therefore measure success in other ways, such as “low cost” or “cost effective.” Forensic service providers and their parent organizations use terms such as “cost-effective” vaguely without reference to other disciplines which use these as well-defined technical terms in evaluative phrases or formulae. Despite the great concern and administrative angst over forensic service providers’ “performance” and “capacity,” these metrics go undefined as industry standards.



Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences

Forensic Science Service Provider Models: Data-Driven Support for Better Delivery Options, Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume 45, Issue 2, 2013, Paul J. Speaker, forthcoming.

Abstract: There are a variety of models for the delivery of forensic science analysis in service to the justice system. In answer to the question as to whether there is a ‘best’ option for the delivery of forensic science services, New Zealand’s Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has been offered as a model which demonstrates a comparative advantage over the delivery of forensic services in more traditional models. The support for that assertion rests in the ability of the ESR to react at the speed of business and avoid bureaucratic drag found too often in the public sector.  This efficiency argument addresses one dimension of the search for ‘best’ delivery. The second dimension involves the discovery of the optimal scale of operation to take efficiency and turn it into cost effectiveness.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Enhancing Employee Outcomes in Crime Labs: Test of a Model, Forensic Science Policy and Management: An International Journal Volume 3, Issue 4, 2012, David Dawley, forthcoming.

Abstract: This paper developed and tested a model identifying determinants of employee turnover intentions and desirable performance behaviors, including helping others and engaging in knowledge sharing. Data collected from 798 employees at ten FORESIGHT laboratories suggest that job satisfaction and embeddedness are the primary antecedents of turnover intentions and knowledge sharing, and that embeddedness is a stronger predictor variable of both outcomes. Embeddedness is driven by the employees' understanding of the lab's strategic vision. Moreover, job satisfaction and embeddedness are positively associated with helping behavior. Finally, we identified job autonomy as a primary determinant of job satisfaction. We discuss practical implications of these findings for managers.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Efficiency and the Cost Effective Delivery of Forensic Science Services: In-Sourcing, Out-Sourcing, and Privatization, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 3, Issue 2, Chris Maguire, Max Houck, Robin Williams, & Paul J. Speaker, pages 62-69

Abstract: Given the recent global recession, many national governments have been forced to implement austerity measures, and the forensic science industry has not been immune from such changes. Proposals to privatize some or all aspects of forensic science services have been bantered about for decades, but the recent economic climate has brought this idea back to the forefront of public debates. Although privatization has been shown to have many benefits in the provision of other goods and services, the idea of privatizing forensic services has been harshly criticized by scholars and practitioners. This paper explores some of those criticisms through the lens of economics, and arguments are offered regarding why market approaches in forensic science may be more successful than might have originally been imagined under certain conditions. On the other hand, recognition of those economic forces and reaction by forensic laboratories to address inefficiencies may provide the effective delivery of forensic services that forestalls privatization efforts.



Science and Justice

The Balanced Scorecard: Sustainable Performance Assessment for Forensic Laboratories, Science and Justice Volume 52, 2012, Max Houck, Paul J. Speaker, Richard Riley, & A. Scott Fleming, pages 209-216.

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to introduce the concept of the balanced scorecard into the laboratory management environment. The balanced scorecard is a performance measurement matrix designed to capture financial and non-financial metrics that provide insight into the critical success factors for an organization, effectively aligning organization strategy to key performance objectives. The scorecard helps organizational leaders by providing balance from two perspectives. First, it ensures an appropriate mix of performance metrics from across the organization to achieve operational excellence; thereby the balanced scorecard ensures that no single or limited group of metrics dominates the assessment process, possibly leading to long-term inferior performance. Second, the balanced scorecard helps leaders offset short term performance pressures by giving recognition and weight to long-term laboratory needs that, if not properly addressed, might jeopardize future laboratory performance.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Is Privatization Inevitable for Forensic Science Laboratories?, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012, William McAndrew, pages 42-52

Abstract: Given the recent global recession, many national governments have been forced to implement austerity measures, and the forensic science industry has not been immune from such changes. Proposals to privatize some or all aspects of forensic science services have been bantered about for decades, but the recent economic climate has brought this idea back to the forefront of public debates. Although privatization has been shown to have many benefits in the provision of other goods and services, the idea of privatizing forensic services has been harshly criticized by scholars and practitioners. This paper explores some of those criticisms through the lens of economics, and arguments are offered regarding why market approaches in forensic science may be more successful than might have originally been imagined under certain conditions. On the other hand, recognition of those economic forces and reaction by forensic laboratories to address inefficiencies may provide the effective delivery of forensic services that forestalls privatization efforts.



Forensic Magazine

The Power of Information, Forensic Magazine April 10, 2012, Tom S. Witt & Paul J. Speaker

Abstract: When it comes to cost, the Foresight model was designed to overlook nothing. When we talk about the cost of doing something, we look at everything from equipment, telecommunications, heating, lighting, facility rent … everything. If a participant doesn't have access to the data, we can estimate those costs from other labs in our studies. We come up with an all-inclusive figure that tells participants what it costs to process a case. This leads to informed decisions. Take trace evidence cases, for example. You might find that processing one trace evidence case costs the same as processing two, three, or even four traditional DNA cases. While trace evidence is wonderful and powerful, if DNA alone will get you where you need to be, this cost factor will heavily affect your decision-making process. Foresight is not about cutting where it matters. It's about using resources wisely so that labs can do more and enhance the services they provide. Once you know the key metrics, you can make informed decisions.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Strategic Management of Forensic Laboratory Resources: From Project FORESIGHT Metrics to the Development of Action Plans, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 2, Issue 4, 2011, Jonathan Newman, David Dawley, & Paul J. Speaker, pages 164-174

Abstract: The project FORESIGHT stated objectives begin with the development of metrics applicable to the activity of forensic science laboratories. These metrics enable a laboratory to assess how they fit within the forensic science industry and offer a glance at the levels of performance that they might be able to achieve. FORESIGHT's mission goes on to state the intent for laboratories to use those measurements to "preserve what works, and change what does not" (Houck et al. 2009, p. 85). This paper addresses the strategic implications of those additional aspects of the FORESIGHT mandate with a view of the strategic planning process for a forensic science laboratory. The keys to the development of an ongoing strategic planning and execution process are outlined, and then the actions of one laboratory, Ontario's Centre of Forensic Sciences, are examined to demonstrate the move from metrics to action. While there cannot yet be made a claim of "best practices," this Canadian example offers some guidance to "better practices" in the quest for continual improvement in the provision of forensic science services.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Managing Performance in the Forensic Sciences: Expectations in Light of Limited Budgets, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 2, Issue 1, 2011, Hilton Kobus, Max Houck, Paul J. Speaker & Richard Riley, pages 36-43

Abstract: For forensic service providers worldwide, the demand for high-quality services greatly outpaces available resources to meet those requests. The gap between the demand for services and the resource-restricted supply of those services has implications for managing performance: the effectiveness and efficiency of forensic science. The effectiveness of forensic science is directly related to the quality of the scientific analysis and the timeliness with which that analysis is provided, while efficiency is associated with attempts to minimize costs without negatively impacting quality. An inevitable result of the demand and supply gap is a backlog that results in downstream effects on timeliness, service, and quality. One important strategy to respond to the demand-supply imbalance is continual process improvement. Collaborative benchmarking as a basis for process improvement is another approach. This paper discusses the disjunction between perceived and actual value for forensic services and the rationale for providers to evaluate, improve, and re-tool their processes toward continual improvement given limited resources.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Forensic Science Staffing: Creating a Working Formula, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 2, Issue 1, 2011, Joyce Thompson Heames & Jon Timothy Heames, pages 5-10

Abstract: The key issue facing forensic labs is "the classic economic problem—how to allocate limited resources with increasing demand for services, while maintaining high quality standards" (Speaker 2009). Employees are the biggest expense and most valuable resource that forensic labs possess, thus the question arises as to how to maximize human resource functions to best allocate resources through personnel. As the search is on to look for better practices to improve the operations as well as technical expertise of labs, human capital management is crucial to that objective. The purpose of this article is to process map some of the staffing issues facing forensic science labs, whether public or private, and to identify metrics from the FORESIGHT study (Houck et al. 2009) that might help lab directors create a working formula to better manage staffing (e.g., recruiting and selection) issues.



Journal of the Academy of Business Education

A New Twist on Old Tricks: DuPont Expansions for Public Entities, Journal of the Academy of Business Education, Proceedings, 2010, Paul J. Speaker, pages 1-7

Abstract: The typical managerial accounting or business finance textbook includes a discussion of the DuPont expansion as a subtopic in the presentation of financial ratios. Such expansions offer a convenient mechanism to decompose return on equity into ratios which highlight profitability, risk, and efficiency measures as an explanation of the overall return. Advanced forms of the DuPont expansion also permit the decomposition of returns into operating returns and financial returns. Unfortunately, over time many of these textbooks have eliminated the step-by-step calculations that lead to the final breakdowns and instead merely offer the final relationship. While this may be acceptable for many applications of the DuPont expansion, it limits the ability of business school graduates to apply the concept to new situations. This oversight is corrected for a particular public entity, the forensic crime laboratory, for which a different return on investment measure must be considered. It is demonstrated that the inclusion of more detail surrounding the basic calculations in accounting and finance textbooks presents a better opportunity for the development of critical thinking skills as managers apply techniques to new sectors for which the different objective functions guide managerial decisions.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Benchmarking and Budgeting Techniques for Improved Forensic Laboratory Management, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 1, Issue 4, 2010, Paul J. Speaker & A. Scott Fleming, pages 199-208

Abstract: Forensic laboratories are not immune from downturns in the worldwide economy. Recession and economic slowdowns, when coupled with the public's heightened sense of the capabilities of forensic science, put stress on the effectiveness of forensic laboratories. The resources available to forensic laboratories are limited, and managers are under greater pressure to improve efficiency and effectiveness. To this end, the use of internal and external financial and accounting metrics to plan, control, evaluate, and communicate performance is examined. Using data from the QUADRUPOL and FORESIGHT studies, we illustrate the use of external benchmarking through a calculation of laboratory return on investment and the internal development and use of a budget to enhance laboratory performance in light of limited resources.



Journal of the Academy of Business Education

The KPI of CSI: A Business Application in the Public Sector, Journal of the Academy of Business Education, Proceedings, 2010, Paul J. Speaker, pages 1-12

Abstract: The typical managerial accounting or business finance textbook includes a discussion of the DuPont expansion as a subtopic in the presentation of financial ratios. Such expansions offer a convenient mechanism to decompose return on equity into ratios which highlight profitability, risk, and efficiency measures as an explanation of the overall return. Advanced forms of the DuPont expansion also permit the decomposition of returns into operating returns and financial returns. Unfortunately, over time many of these textbooks have eliminated the step-by-step calculations that lead to the final breakdowns and instead merely offer the final relationship. While this may be acceptable for many applications of the DuPont expansion, it limits the ability of business school graduates to apply the concept to new situations. This oversight is corrected for a particular public entity, the forensic crime laboratory, for which a different return on investment measure must be considered. It is demonstrated that the inclusion of more detail surrounding the basic calculations in accounting and finance textbooks presents a better opportunity for the development of critical thinking skills as managers apply techniques to new sectors for which the different objective functions guide managerial decisions.



The CPA Journal

Monitoring Financial Performance, The CPA Journal Volume 79, Issue 8, 2009, Paul J. Speaker & Arron Scott Fleming, pages 60-65

Abstract: The pressure to improve performance is felt by managers in every industry. In difficult financial times, it becomes all the more important for managers to seek continuous improvements in the performance of their organizations. Forensic laboratories are not unlike other service organizations in this regard and must continually find ways to improve performance with limited resources. Applying metrics to key areas is a method for gauging success, for recognizing areas for improvement, and for identifying potential risks. Nevertheless, routine accounting practices and standardized cost terms have been slow to permeate this industry. Metrics and budgetary analyses can be helpful, but until recently such calculations were not possible given the lack of fiscal and casework standardization within the forensic laboratory industry. Both auditors and CPA consultants can benefit themselves and the forensic laboratory service industry by using metrics to identify risk areas & improve/communicate performance.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

The Decomposition of Return on Investment for Forensic Laboratories, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 1, Issue 2, 2009, Paul J. Speaker, pages 96-102

Abstract: For forensic laboratories, a detailed understanding of return on investment (ROI) is necessary for routine assessment, consideration of new legislative alternatives, and cost-benefit analysis for decision making. Converting performance data to ratio measures provides useful comparisons between an individual laboratory and the standards for excellence for the industry; these measures also permit an evaluation across time. Unfortunately, these same ROI measures are subject to abuse when overemphasis on a single measure leads to unintended consequences. In this paper, the ROI measure is broken down into various parts that can be tracked on a regular basis to reveal how a laboratory achieves its results. The tradeoffs between return and risk, efficiency, analytical process, and market conditions are outlined. The end product is a series of easily monitored metrics that a laboratory director may examine on a regular basis for continuous improvement.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

FORESIGHT: A Business Approach to Improving Forensic Science Services, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 1, Issue 2, 2009, Max M. Houck, Richard A. Riley, Paul J. Speaker, & Tom S. Witt, pages 85-95

Abstract: Managers of scientific laboratories see themselves as scientists first and managers second; consequently, they tend to devalue the managerial aspects of their jobs. Forensic laboratory managers are no different, but the stakes may be much higher given the importance of quality science to the criminal justice system. The need for training and support in forensic laboratory management has been recognized for many years, but little has been done to transition the tools of business to the forensic laboratory environment. FORESIGHT is a business-guided self-evaluation of forensic science laboratories across North America. The participating laboratories represent local, regional, state, and national agencies. Economics, accounting, finance, and forensic faculty provide assistance, guidance, and analysis. The process involves standardizing definitions for metrics to evaluate work processes, linking financial information to work tasks, and functions. Laboratory managers can then assess resource allocations, efficiencies, and value of services—the mission is to measure, preserve what works, and change what does not. A project of this magnitude for forensic laboratories has not been carried out anywhere.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Survey of Forensic Service Providers, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 1, Issue 1, 2009, Randall A. Childs, Tom S. Witt, & Kanybek Nur-tegin, pages 49-56

Abstract: Government-funded studies, to date, have focused on forensic science within the laboratory setting. Recent studies have suggested that there is a significant amount of forensic services that take place outside of the forensic laboratories. There has been a lack of research that quantifies and benchmarks forensic services performed outside of the traditional forensic laboratories. This study, funded through the West Virginia University Forensic Science Initiative by a grant from the National Institute of Justice and conducted in collaboration with the International Association for Identification (IAI), examines forensic services conducted outside of forensic laboratories. Data on forensic identification was gathered through two surveys. The first survey, a detailed survey about the organization's jurisdiction, employment, functions performed, caseload, backlog, budget, and outsourcing, was sent to IAI members in the United States. The second survey, a brief survey, was sent to every police chief and sheriff in the United States.



Forensic Science Policy & Management

Key Performance Indicators and Managerial Analysis for Forensic Laboratories, Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Volume 1, Issue 1, 2009, Paul J. Speaker, pages 32-42

Abstract: Forensic laboratories generate a great deal of data from casework activities across investigative areas, personnel and budget allocations, and corresponding expenditures. This paper investigates ways in which laboratories can make data-driven managerial decisions through the regular extraction of key performance indicators from commonly available data sources. A laboratory's performance indicators can then be compared to peer laboratory performance to search for best practices, determine in-house trends, manage scarce resources, and provide quantitative support for the justification of additional resources.