funding state and local forensic science agencies, independent research projects, and educational programs as recommended in this report, with conditions that aim to advance the credibility and reliability of the forensic science disciplines;
overseeing education standards and the accreditation of forensic science programs in colleges and universities;
developing programs to improve understanding of the forensic science disciplines and their limitations within legal systems; and
assessing the development and introduction of new technologies in forensic investigations, including a comparison of new technologies with former ones.
The benefits that will flow from a strong, independent, strategic, coherent, and well-funded federal program to support and oversee the forensic science disciplines in this country are clear: The Nation will (1) bolster its ability to more accurately identify true perpetrators and exclude those who are falsely accused; (2) improve its ability to effectively respond to, attribute, and prosecute threats to homeland security; and (3) reduce the likelihood of convictions resting on inaccurate data. Moreover, establishing the scientific foundation of the forensic science disciplines, providing better education and training, and requiring certification and accreditation will position the forensic science community to take advantage of current and future scientific advances.
The creation of a new federal entity undoubtedly will pose challenges, not the least of which will be budgetary constraints. The committee is not in a position to estimate how much it will cost to implement the recommendations in this report; this is a matter best left to the expertise of the Congressional Budget Office. What is clear, however, is that Congress must take aggressive action if the worst ills of the forensic science community are to be cured. Political and budgetary concerns should not deter bold, creative, and forward-looking action, because the country cannot afford to suffer the consequences of inaction. It will also take time and patience to implement the recommendations in this report. But this is true with any large, complex, important, and challenging enterprise.
The committee strongly believes that the greatest hope for success in this enterprise will come with the creation of the National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS) to oversee and direct the forensic science community. The remaining recommendations in this report are crucially tied to the creation of NIFS. However, each recommendation is a separate, essential piece of the plan to improve the forensic science community in the United States. Therefore, even if the creation of NIFS is forestalled, the committee