case of state (as opposed to federal) regulation, there is the potential problem that different practices will be mandated in different jurisdictions, although this can be avoided if a few states take the lead and others follow suit by adopting similar regulations or recognize other states' licensing. The most efficient path seems to be for a federal licensing procedure to standardize the process for the nation and avoid state licensing, which can be restrictive and redundant. The federal license would be most cost-efficient and provide the field with a mechanism of quality assurance.
The ''stick" of licensing can be replaced by the "carrot" of funding. Such an approach would provide an incentive for adhering to standards, reduce costs for states and localities, and increase the number of laboratories able to afford DNA typing. A medical specialty laboratory typically spends $1,000-3,000 per annum for its licenses and accreditation. But the approach has numerous problems. The use of an equitable funding formula within state eligibility requirements might be problematic and controversial. Private laboratories would be unlikely to be covered (or even to want to be covered) by such a program. Expanding the number of practicing laboratories might decrease, not increase, the general standard of practice for a complex technology. Most important, the funding incentives alone do not provide an adequate guarantee of quality; they must be backed up by a regulatory program.
It is useful to consider the experience with various approaches in related fields. Medicine provides an appropriate analogy to forensic science, because it involves the application of sophisticated scientific methods to serious decisions that the practitioner must make on the basis of only partial information. Medicine has general mechanisms for setting standards of education and training of people, of laboratory practices and performance, and of quality assurance. The mechanisms involve both voluntary standard-setting by professional organizations and mandatory regulation through public licensing.
In pathology and laboratory medicine, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) is the dominant standard-setting organization. It has its roots in pathology, but has recently indicated its interest in working collaboratively with other laboratory-based professional groups toward establishing standard-setting for specialty laboratories. In medical genetics, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) operates a personnel-certification program for clinicians and laboratory directors. ASHG recently agreed to