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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
It must not be in any way committed to the existing system, but should be informed by its experiences.
It must not be part of a law enforcement agency.
It must have the funding, independence, and sufficient prominence to raise the profile of the forensic science disciplines and push effectively for improvements.
It must be led by persons who are skilled and experienced in developing and executing national strategies and plans for standard setting; managing accreditation and testing processes; and developing and implementing rulemaking, oversight, and sanctioning processes.
No federal agency currently exists that meets all of these criteria.
To promote the development of forensic science into a maturefield of multidisciplinary research and practice, founded on thesystematic collection and analysis of relevant data, Congress shouldestablish and appropriate funds for an independent federal entity,the National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS). NIFS should havea full-time administrator and an advisory board with expertise inresearch and education, the forensic science disciplines, physicaland life sciences, forensic pathology, engineering, information technology, measurements and standards, testing and evaluation, law,national security, and public policy. NIFS should focus on:
establishing and enforcing best practices for forensic science professionals and laboratories;
establishing standards for the mandatory accreditation offorensic science laboratories and the mandatory certification of forensic scientists and medical examiners/forensicpathologists—and identifying the entity/entities that willdevelop and implement accreditation and certification;
promoting scholarly, competitive peer-reviewed researchand technical development in the forensic science disciplines and forensic medicine;
developing a strategy to improve forensic science researchand educational programs, including forensic pathology;
establishing a strategy, based on accurate data on the forensic science community, for the efficient allocation ofavailable funds to give strong support to forensic methodologies and practices in addition to DNA analysis;