Objective: This presentation will educate standards professionals on various forensic science disciplines and how forensic science standards are developed for crime laboratories in the United States.
Abstract: The forensic science industry is made up of many “disciplines” such as Anthropology, DNA, Digital Evidence, Fingerprints, Firearms, Medicolegal Death Investigation, Seized Drugs, Toxicology, and many more. This presentation will provide a brief background on select forensic science disciplines and discuss the state of standards development and implementation in the industry, which includes federal initiatives.
In February 2014, the United States’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched and began administering the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science, which is a collection of 550 volunteer members (practitioners, researchers, statisticians, legal experts, human factors experts and quality experts) divided into 20+ forensic science discipline specific subcommittees. This effort was designed to improve forensic science discipline specific quality and enhance the operational effectiveness of the U.S.’s 400+ crime laboratories. Additional targeted stakeholders include 18,000 law enforcement agencies, 2,300 medical examiner/coroner offices, 6,000 public defender offices, and 3,000 prosecutor offices which increases the challenge of generating awareness of standards and providing a uniform message across all these independent stakeholders as there is no single owner/regulator of forensic science in the U.S.
Significant progress has been made in engaging the forensic community and its stakeholders in the development of forensic discipline-specific documentary standards. To date, OSAC has placed over 30 standards on its OSAC Registry and has 200 more still under development.