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ACCREDITATION for Forensic Science Laboratories February 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "ACCREDITATION for Forensic Science Laboratories February 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 ACCREDITATION for Forensic Science Laboratories February 2015

2 ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION  The temptation is to begin with the question ‘How do I get my lab accredited?’  The better question to ask is ‘Why should I get my lab accredited?’  Ensuring the proper focus helps lab management make better decisions

3 THE VALUE OF ACCREDITATION  The importance of demonstrating that all forensic services are provided in accordance with accepted standards has increased in recent years. Accreditation provides that essential, external, independent review. Accreditation increases the level of confidence for customers and all interested parties in the work and work product of the laboratory.

4 VOCABULARY  Accreditation : procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a lab is competent to carry out specified tasks  Accreditation body : organization conducting and administering an accreditation system and granting accreditation  Certification : refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation is often, but not always, provided by some form of external review, education, assessment, or audit – in the forensic community this is most frequently focused on the individual (e.g. ABC, IAI)

5 OTHER COMMUNITIES USING ACCREDITATION  Universities  U.S. Department of Education has a listing of both Institutional Accreditation and Specialized Accreditation (e.g. Law, Nursing, Speech Therapy)  Hospitals  In order to receive reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid  Law enforcement  CALEA (one example)  Electrical products  Underwriters Laboratories (one example)

6 WHY ACCREDITATION?  National and international recognition  For example: why did you encourage your kids to pursue a degree? And why did you consider one school over another?  For example: if you need a medical procedure, how do you evaluate the hospital or doctor?  Proactive management process (e.g. documenting policies and procedures, performing internal audits, annual management review, proficiency testing personnel)  Community creditability and public confidence  Developing an internal culture of quality and understanding

7 WHY ISO?  ISO = International Organization for Standardization (not an acronym)  From the Greek ISOS ( ΙΣΩΣ ) which means equal  Organization which publishes over 19,000 standards and guidelines  From manufacturing and healthcare to space vehicles and railways  Documents available for purchase in the USA from  In many countries accreditation is government based and mandatory  In the USA there are only seven states with legislated accreditation for forensic labs: TX, OK, NY, MO, NC, MD, MN (FYI - TX requires accreditation for both public and private forensic labs)

8 WHO MONITORS THE ACCREDITATION BODIES?  Voluntary regional ‘recognition’ process  APLAC (Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation)  EA (European Accreditation Cooperation)  IAAC (Inter American Accreditation Cooperation)  SADCA (South African Development Community Accreditation)  Using ISO/IEC for evaluation

9 AND WHO SETS THE STANDARDS FOR THESE REGIONAL BODIES?  ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation)  Based in Australia  Publishes ILAC G19 [2014] for the forensic community [free PDF resource]  Developed a helpful brochure to better understand accreditation: content/uploads/2013/05/Why-become-an-acredited- lab.pdf content/uploads/2013/05/Why-become-an-acredited- lab.pdf  Posted a useful video:


11 WILL ACCREDITATION PREVENT PERSONNEL PROBLEMS AND MISCHIEF?  Unfortunately no  But it makes it much more likely that someone or a monitoring action will proactively identify these departures BEFORE they become catastrophic  This entire process is focused on developing a ‘culture of quality’ for both management and technical personnel  Similar to ‘how does a community develop a positive relationship with law enforcement?’ It takes time and requires the development of trust and respect

12 HOW TO BEGIN...  Obtain a copy of the accreditation requirements  For ASCLD/LAB this would be ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 and the appropriate set of Supplemental Requirements  Seek training to get a better picture of what the requirements mean and how the process works  Locate a mentor or partner organization so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel  Observing an internal audit in an accredited lab may provide a better picture of what needs to be done to prepare  Begin the application process  There are many steps on the path

13 BASIC STRUCTURE OF THE PROGRAM  ISO/IEC  Section 4 - Management focus  15 subsections  Section 5 – Technical requirements  10 subsections  ASCLD/LAB – International Supplemental Requirements  Forensic specific requirements developed by the forensic science community  Established using requirements originally developed and continually improved since 1982  One program for forensic science testing and one for breath alcohol calibration

14 MORE INFORMATION – SECTION 4  Organization  Management system  Document control  Review of requests, tenders and contracts  Subcontracting  Purchasing services and supplies  Service to the customer  Complaints  Controlling nonconforming testing and/or calibration work  Improvement  Corrective action  Preventive action  Control of records  Internal audits  Management review

15 MORE INFORMATION – SECTION 5  General technical requirements  Personnel  Accommodations and environmental conditions  Test methods  Equipment  Measurement traceability  Sampling  Handling of test items  Assuring the quality of test results  Test reports

16 HOW TO PREPARE  Completing a conformance file  Performing an internal audit before making application  Completing a full management review before application  Compiling all required information for the application  Preparing staff and management  The assessment process is conducted by peers – not easily bluffed  Remember to breathe

17 THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE  The process is about improvement  Not focused on ‘find the problem’  Focus is ‘confirm conformance’  Plan > Do > Check > Act  Deming’s wheel of continuous improvement  Also – this process is more than ‘once and done’  Monitoring activities are included in the accreditation process  Annual proficiency testing, annual audit, annual management review, performance declaration report, on-site surveillance visits  Reaccreditation every four years


19 WHY CHOOSE ASCLD/LAB?  Laser focus on forensic science community  Not distracted by competing priorities and multiple business models  Longest running forensic science accreditation program in the world  Centuries of experience provided by the permanent staff of ASCLD/LAB  Current staff:  Forensic scientists serve as our volunteer technical assessors

20 CREDENTIALS OF THE ASCLD/LAB DECISION MAKING BODY  Board of Directors  Not bureaucratic paper pushers  Actual forensic laboratory directors, criminal justice representatives and scientific academicians  Volunteers for four years  Current Board:

21 HELPFUL CLARIFICATIONS  When needed ASCLD/LAB provides clarifications and interpretations for the community  international-testing- program-board- interpretations/ international-testing- program-board- interpretations/

22 RESOURCES   Website information and training resources   Annual meeting for quality manager networking   Annual meeting for lab director networking   Resources and information   Resources and guidance documents


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