Home About Us Laboratory Services Biometric Analysis CODIS Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance

CODIS—Quality Assurance

The FBI takes an active role in assuring the quality of the results in the database. For example, the DNA Identification Act of 1994 established a DNA Advisory Board (DAB) to develop and revise the recommended standards for quality assurance. The DAB fulfilled its mission by recommending two quality assurance documents to the Director of the FBI, resulting in the issuance of the Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Labs and Standards for Convicted Offender Labs. Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Labs and Standards for DNA Databasing Labs have been updated and took effect July 1, 2009.

The DNA Identification Act of 1994 required the formation of a panel of distinguished professionals, from the public and private sectors, to address issues relevant to forensic DNA applications. This panel, titled the DNA Advisory Board (DAB), first convened in 1995. An early mission of the DAB was to develop and implement quality assurance standards for use by forensic DNA testing laboratories. The scope was quickly expanded to include forensic DNA databasing laboratories as well. The DAB fulfilled this role, recommending separate documents detailing quality assurance standards for both applications. The "Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories" and the "Quality Assurance Standards for Convicted Offender DNA Databasing Laboratories" were issued by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in October 1998 and April 1999, respectively. Both documents have become benchmarks for assessing the quality practices and performances of DNA laboratories throughout the country. When the Federal DNA Advisory Board’s statutory term expired, it transferred responsibility for recommending revisions of these Quality Assurance Standards to the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM).

The DNA Identification Act of 1994 also required that the FBI Laboratory ensure that all DNA laboratories that are federally operated, receive federal funds or participate in the National DNA Index System (NDIS) demonstrate compliance with the standards issued by the FBI. Typically documentation of a laboratory's compliance with a stated standard has been measured through an audit process. Such audits have been performed by forensic scientists, either internal or external to the laboratory, and serve to identify compliance with established standards.

The Audit Document defines and interprets each standard, with added discussion points clarifying the criteria necessary for compliance. Additionally, the document is structured such that criteria, which overlap between the FBI issued standards and the corresponding ASCLD/LAB elements, share a consistent interpretative view.

Effective with the July 2009 audit documents and for audits conducted in accordance with the Quality Assurance Standards effective July 1, 2009, separate audit documents will be used for forensic and databasing laboratories.