proficiency testing (as well as other accreditation that might be mandated by government or come to be generally accepted in the profession)—for its evidence to be admissible. There is strong legal foundation for such a position. As a number of courts have correctly recognized, the admissibility of scientific evidence depends not just on a technology's being sound in principle, but on the testing laboratory's having applied it in the case at hand according to generally accepted standards. Courts should view the absence of appropriate accreditation as constituting a prima facie case that the laboratory has not complied with generally accepted standards. Until accreditation programs are fully implemented, there will be a period during which some laboratories will not have completed the accreditation process. In the interim, courts should require forensic laboratories at least to demonstrate that they are effectively in compliance with the requirements for accreditation as outlined by TWGDAM and by this report; that would be taken as meeting generally accepted standards of practice.
Second, the federal government should adopt legislation requiring accreditation of all forensic laboratories engaged in DNA typing. The committee recommends the following approach:
Establishing mandatory accreditation should be a responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in consultation with the Department of Justice (DOJ). DHHS is the appropriate agency, because it has extensive experience in the regulation of clinical laboratories through programs under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act and has extensive expertise in molecular genetics through the National Institutes of Health. DOJ must be involved, because the task is important for law enforcement. However, the committee feels that primary responsibility should rest with DHHS for two reasons. First, DOJ lacks expertise in quality assurance and quality control and in molecular or population genetics. Second, DOJ may be perceived as an advocate for application of the technology. Oversight by DOJ may not be perceived as providing adequate assurance to the public or to a defendant facing prosecution by DOJ or affiliated agencies.
DHHS, in consultation with DOJ, should contract with an organization to create and administer an appropriate laboratory-accreditation program, including proficiency testing. Preferably, the organization would be a private professional group; that would avoid the creation of additional government bureaucracy. One choice would be ASCLD-LAB, provided that it followed through on its announced intentions to assume a more active standard-setting role and demonstrated rigorous independence from the laboratories that it would regulate. Another choice would be CAP, which has unparalleled experience in administering such laboratory-accreditation programs in a wide variety of fields. Alternatively, the organization could be a government agency, provided that it were not itself engaged in operat-