★ Proficiency and Other Testing of Examiners
Subcommittee on Accreditation and Proficiency Testing, Initial Draft Recommendation to the Attorney General on Proficiency Testing, May 19, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0004
The National Commission on Forensic Science recommends that the Attorney General:Subcommittee on Human Factors, Initial Draft Views of the Commission on Optimizing Human Performance in Crime Laboratories through Testing and Feedback, May 16, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0010
• Recommendation #1: Require all DOJ FSSP’s to participate in a proficiency testing program applicable to the area(s) in which they conduct forensic analysis within three years of acceptance.
• Recommendation #2: Encourage other federal, state & local FSSP’s, to participate in proficiency testing programs by all means possible, with any available enforcement mechanism.
• Recommendation #3: Require all DOJ FSSP’s to seek proficiency testing programs that provide sufficiently rigorous samples that are representative of the challenges of forensic casework.
• Recommendation #4: Encourage external vendors that provide proficiency tests to DOJ to share their aggregate data with entities doing research and analysis.
Overview: How might testing be done to assess and improve the performance of forensic science service providers (FSSPs) on routine analytic tasks? What kind of testing programs will be most helpful for achieving goals such as: (1) establishing the conditions under which analytic methods can (and cannot) be expected to achieve accurate results; (2) providing feedback to help examiners improve their skills; (3) estimating the rate of error for routine analytic tasks and better understanding variables that affect the rate of error? What steps should be taken to facilitate the development of effective performance testing in forensic laboratories in order better to achieve such goals?★ Certification of Examiners
Subcommittee on Accreditation and Proficiency Testing, Initial Draft Views of the Commission on Certification of Forensic Science Practitioners, May 13, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0003
It is the view of the Commission that forensic science agencies shouldSubcommittee on Accreditation and Proficiency Testing, Initial Draft Views of the Commission on Accreditation and Recognition of Forensic Science Certification Bodies, May 13, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0002
• Determine applicability of certification depending on the job responsibilities of the specific individual and the availability of certification programs, including but not limited to, managers, analysts and technical support.
• Develop a process that ensures all practitioners apply for certification, if a program is available and provide time and resources to achieve and maintain certification.
• Include certification requirements in position descriptions, where possible.
• Provide similar support to practitioners, if there is not a certification program available in a specific category of testing, to maintain knowledge and skills.
It is the view of the Commission that all forensic science practitioners should:
• Become certified in all categories of testing in which examinations are performed as soon as the requirements of the certification body are met, provided a certification examination is available.
• Obtain certification within five years from implementation of this document. Personnel entering the field after implementation shall obtain certification within one year of eligibility or within the required time limit of the certifying body.
It is the view of the Commission that certification bodies should:★ Accreditation
• Seek compliance to ISO/IEC 17024 Conformity Assessment – General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons. This process should be accomplished within ten years of implementation.
• Be accredited in accordance with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17024 by an accreditation body, operating in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 – General Requirements for Accreditation bodies Accrediting Conformity Assessment bodies and signatory to the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA)..
• Collaborate with other certification bodies to develop uniform certification requirements.
• Ensure that certification examinations are continually reviewed to incorporate new technologies and remove obsolete information.
Subcommittee on Accreditation & Proficiency Testing, Initial Draft Views of the Commission Regarding Accreditation Program Requirements, May 16, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0005
It is the view of the National Commission on Forensic Science that the overall accreditation of forensic science service providers could be strengthened by, at a minimum, full compliance with ISO/IEC 17011 for all accrediting bodies offering services to forensic science service providers. Further improvements could be achieved with the consistent adoption/incorporation of the following requirements by accrediting bodies:★ Case Reporting and Records
• Shorten the time period between on-site assessments.
• Require surveillance visits every year a facility does not have a full assessment.
• Expand the requirements of ISO 17011 definition of surveillance visits.
• Ensure appropriate technical assessors for categories of testing conduct assessments. (Assessors should have recent work as an analyst in the discipline.)
• Require accrediting bodies to provide continuous training and feedback to assessors.
• Incorporate unannounced visits/assessments.
• Include targeted and random sampling as well as case observations/witnessing when reviewing casework.
• Develop standards for sampling plans that account for casework volume and number of analysts.
• Increase the number of annual case observations/witnessing.
• Increase the percentage of technical reviews.
• Require a specific percentage of blind re-examinations.
• Increase requirements for proficiency testing plans (e.g. number of external per year/cycle based on a percentage of analysts.)
• Increase the robustness of the testimony monitoring program including in-person monitoring and transcript review with a mandated frequency.
• Require method validation to include both external sources/studies of the overall performance and reliability and internal studies of appropriateness and performance.
• DOJ should seek aggregate data issues/non-conformities from all assessments of forensic science service providers from each accrediting body. Anonymity and confidentiality should be maintained as the purpose of the report is to review systemic issues in forensic science that should be addressed.
• DOJ should encourage continuous improvement of the accreditation process and provide support through funding, research and other initiatives.
Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony, Initial Draft Recommendation to the Attorney General on Documentation, Case Record and Report Contents, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0007
The National Commission on Forensic Science recommends that the Attorney General have Department of Justice Forensic Science Service Providers (FSSPs) develop and maintain written policies for documenting the examination, testing, and interpretation of evidence and for reporting results, interpretations, and conclusions that are consistent with the following requirements:Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony, Initial Draft View of the Commission on Report and Case Record Contents, April 23, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0006
1. Records should be created during the examination of evidence and the technical review that allow another analyst or scientist, with proper training and experience, to understand and evaluate all the work performed, and independently analyze and interpret the data and draw conclusions.
2. Providing all of the documentation described above in a single report in every case is impractical. Instead, if not in the report, the documentation described herein must be maintained in a case record.1 Generic documentation such as Standard Operating Procedures and definitions must either be a part of the case record or be easily accessible (e.g., posted on a website, available on request).
3. Reports should clearly state: the purpose of the examination or testing; the method and materials used; a description or summary of the data or results; any conclusions derived from those data or results; any discordant results or conclusions; the estimated uncertainty or variability; and possible sources of error and limitations in the method, data, or conclusions.
4. Every report should state that the report does not contain all of the documentation associated with the work performed and that to understand and evaluate all the work performed, and independently analyze and interpret the data and draw conclusions requires a review of the case record.
5. The case record should be organized and made available in a manner consistent with the discovery recommendations of the National Commission on Forensic Science.
It is the view of the National Commission on Forensic Science that a report and a case record describing the results of forensic testing should, at a minimum, contain the information identified in Appendix A.★ Medicolegal Death Investigation
Subcommittee on Medicolegal Death Investigation, Initial Draft Recommendation to the Attorney General for the Formation of a National Office for Medicolegal Death Investigation, May 18, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-000
The National Commission on Forensic Science recommends that the Attorney General take the following action(s):Subcommittee on Medicolegal Death Investigation, Initial Draft Views of the Commission Regarding Communication with Next of Kin and Other Family Members, May 16, 2016, DOJ-LA-2016-0011-0009
Recommendation #1: The Attorney General should work with the Whitehouse Office of Science and Technology Policy¡|s Medicolegal Death Investigation Working Group and other federal agencies and professional organizations to develop a permanent National Office of Medicolegal Death Investigation which would coordinate ongoing support of the nation¡|s medicolegal death investigation systems to improve quality, consistency and the meeting of criminal justice and public health needs. Such support would not only be for daily and routine operations, but for development and implementation of new technologies, equipment, personnel, and the fostering of research with federal funding and agency support.
Recommendation #2: The Attorney General should, through the National Office in conjunction with the National Institute of Justice, recommend ongoing funding and support to improve the recruitment and retention of forensic pathologists, modernization of facilities and creation of facilities in underserve areas, accreditation of medicolegal offices and certification of its personnel, and the establishment of a national information network for the nation’s medical examiner and coroner offices.
Currently, many medicolegal death investigation offices lack policies and procedures relating to the communication and interactions they have with Next of Kin (NOK) and other family members during death investigations. (1) Additionally, accreditation standards do not directly address this issue and therefore inconsistencies exist that greatly impacts the individual family, the investigation and our society overall.