Certification of Individuals

In the certification approach, a certifying body dictates that fulfillment of specified education, training, and experiential requirements be demonstrated by documentation and examination. An examination can also include a laboratory practicum. Individual certification has many advantages, but it is not adequate. A person does not perform DNA typing tests in isolation. A person's ability to produce high-quality results consistently depends heavily on the procedures, reagents, equipment, management, and attitudes in the work environment. It is impossible to separate a person from his or her organization and physical setting. In addition, personal certification can be expensive and usually requires funding support from the employing institution.

We recommend that the National Institute of Justice, given its interest in training, develop training programs in association with the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. Such a cooperative effort would allow continuity of candidate selection, training, examination, and certification.

Laboratory Accreditation

Accreditation is a more comprehensive approach to regulation. It requires that a laboratory demonstrate that its management, operations, individual personnel, procedures and equipment, physical plant and security, and personnel safety procedures all meet standards. Laboratory accreditation programs can be voluntary or mandatory. Although voluntary programs can have a positive effect, they suffer from the limitations that laboratories need not comply, that standard-setting need not be open to public scrutiny, and that accreditation might be contingent on membership in a professional organization. Accreditation programs required by federal or state law provide a greater level of assurance.

Licensing of Laboratories

Licensing involves vesting, by the federal government or a state government, of a regulatory body with the responsibility and authority to establish a series of requirements that a laboratory must satisfy if it is to be allowed to operate in a defined jurisdiction or to present evidence in its courts. The licensing approach does not suffer the disadvantage of being voluntary. State or federal laws can place sanctions on a laboratory that is not licensed by the specified body. A potential drawback is that the development of such a program can be time-consuming and expensive. In addition, licensing can be anticompetitive and can discourage innovation. In the

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement