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Evidence Management

"In order for qualified forensic science experts to testify competently about forensic evidence, they must first find the evidence in a usable state and properly preserve it.”

- National Academy of Sciences, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009)

Evidence management is a critical facet of the criminal justice system. At every stage, handlers of evidence must ensure that it has not been compromised, contaminated, or degraded and that its chain of custody is tracked. The criminal justice system’s growing reliance on forensic evidence in casework adds complexity to the already difficult job of managing vast inventories of property and evidence held by law enforcement agencies.

The NIST Forensic Science Research Program, in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice, as well as a host of other organizations, committee members, and state and local governments, have established a role in the development of research and guidance in the management of evidence. Long standing expertise in the stability and degradation of various materials and advanced technological capabilities make NIST a unique partner in developing innovative perspectives in addressing evidence management challenges.


join the EvidenCE Management Community of practice To learn more about Evidence Management projects at NIST and to provide feedback on current activities

Visit the Newsletter webpage to access archived Issues

* NEW Report * 

Digital Evidence Preservation:  Considerations for Evidence Handlers - September 2022

The preservation of digital evidence (DE) presents unique problems beyond traditional evidence preservation. Digital Evidence Preservation:  Considerations for Evidence Handlers addresses considerations related to the preservation of digital evidence. This document is part of a series on evidence management and its primary audience is evidence management professionals. The document discusses traditional sources of digital evidence including physical storage media and digital objects and also addresses law enforcement generated digital evidence. The document further discusses key considerations related to digital evidence preservation and the difference from the preservation of other evidence types. Related considerations, such as acquisition of digital evidence are only addressed when there is overlap with preservation.

Current Projects / Activities

NIST / NIJ Evidence Management Steering Committee (EMSC)

Committee charged with developing evidence management guidelines across forensic disciplines. Core group assisting in the management of related evidence management projects.

Survey of Evidence Handlers

The results of a national survey of handlers of evidence done in 2021 will be published soon. 

University of Texas, Arlington - RFID Smart Container Study

NIST grant awardee project. Hosted workshop to gather requirements for automated tracking and sensing technologies for forensic application.

PaSt Projects

Evidence Management Conference - October 2-4, 2019

Stakeholders gathered at the NIST Gaithersburg Campus to discuss evidence management issues and the progress of EMSC.

NIST / NIJ Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation

Working group charged with developing best practices for the preservation, storage, retention, and disposition of biological evidence.

Automated Identification in Evidence Management 

Project assessing the usefulness of automated identification technologies such as RFID and IoT on the management of forensic evidence.

Biological Evidence Storage Resource Guide

Information and resources related to the storage of biological evidence.

published reports

Digital Evidence Preservation:  Considerations for Evidence Handlers  - September 27, 2022

Authors: Barbara Guttman, Douglas R. White, and Tracy Walraven

Biological Evidence Preservation: Considerations for Policy Makers - April 23, 2015 
Authors: Shannan R. Williams,  Melissa K. Taylor,  Susan M. Ballou,  Mark D. Stolorow,  Margaret C. Kline, Phylis S. Bamberger, Larry Brown, Rebecca Brown, Burney Yvette, Davenport Dennis, Lindsay DePalma, Ted Hunt, Cynthia E. Jones, Ralph Keaton, William Kiley, Joseph Latta, Karen Thiessen, Gerry LaPorte, Linda E. Ledray, Randy Nagy, Brian Ostrom, Linda Schwind, Stephanie Stoiloff
RFID in Forensic Evidence Management: An Assessment of Barriers, Benefits, and Costs - October 30, 2014
Authors: Shannan R. Williams,  Melissa K. Taylor, Anuj Mehta, Irland Jeffrey
The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers - April 23, 2013

Authors: Susan M. Ballou,  Margaret C. Kline,  Mark D. Stolorow,  Melissa K. Taylor,  Shannan R. Williams, Phylis S. Bamberger, Burney Yvette, Larry Brown, Cynthia E. Jones, Ralph Keaton, William Kiley, Karen Thiessen, Gerry LaPorte, Joseph Latta, Linda E. Ledray, Randy Nagy, Linda Schwind, Stephanie Stoiloff, Brian Ostrom

Related News

New Report Recommends Policies for Improved Preservation of Biological Evidence - April 20, 2015
NIST Study 'Makes the Case' for RFID Forensic Evidence Management - December 4, 2014
New Guide Details Steps from A-to-Z for Preserving Biological Evidence - April 30, 2013





Created September 16, 2014, Updated September 27, 2022