accredited by ASCLD/LAB.19 Another 3 percent were accredited by some other professional organization, such as the ISO. State-operated laboratories (91 percent) were more likely to be accredited than laboratories serving county (67 percent) or municipal (62 percent) jurisdictions. Among the 230 laboratories providing accreditation information in both the 200220 and 2005 censuses, the accreditation rate increased during the three years from 75 to 87 percent.

However, identification units—that is, those forensic entities outside crime laboratories—do not participate in accreditation systems and are not required to do so. Given that some disciplines are practiced largely outside the laboratory environment (e.g., 66 percent of fingerprint analyses are not conducted in crime laboratories), there is a substantial gap in the number of programs participating in accreditation.21,22

As mentioned previously, DNA analysis is regulated under the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which created an advisory board on quality assurance, tasked with promulgating standards for proficiency testing of laboratories and analysts. The terms of the original advisory board expired, and now the FBI Quality Assurance Standards apply to DNA laboratories receiving federal funds. The standards require periodic (every other year) audits using the FBI Quality Assurance Standards to ensure compliance. The FBI guidelines require that two proficiency tests be completed annually by DNA examiners as well as by technical support personnel performing relevant analytical techniques. The tests must be administered by a source external to the laboratory. The FBI is responsible for developing and maintaining a DNA audit document for assessing compliance with DNA standards and also provides DNA auditor instruction to all ASCLD/LAB inspectors, in addition to the forensic DNA community, on how to interpret the DNA standards. The FBI also reviews audit findings and remedial action, if any. Once all standards are met, it notifies the laboratory of full compliance.


M.R. Durose. 2008. Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2005. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at


J.L. Peterson and M. J. Hickman. 2005. Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2002. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at


Witt, op. cit.


Accreditation is also available for other more specific forensic science disciplines. For example, the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) operates an accreditation program for coroners and medical examiners offices (see Chapter 9). The American Board of Forensic Toxicology accredits toxicology laboratories.

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