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Texas Forensic Science Commission Recommends Crime Laboratories Adopt OSAC Registry Standards

Texas State Capitol
Credit: JP Jones, NIST
Texas State Capitol

The Texas Forensic Science Commission has recommended that all crime laboratories accredited to perform forensic analysis in the State of Texas voluntarily adopt the standards listed on the Registry of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science. These standards define minimum requirements, best practices, scientific protocols and other guidance to help ensure that the results of forensic analysis are reliable and reproducible.

The recommendation passed unanimously at the October 25, 2019 meeting of the Commission in Austin, Texas. “We see this as another positive step forward in improving the quality of forensic analysis conducted in Texas,” said Commission general counsel Lynn Garcia.

The recommendation was limited to the standards currently on the OSAC Registry. It does not apply to the many standards still under development or review by OSAC, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, the adoption of standards is recommended; it is not currently mandatory.  

The Texas Forensic Science Commission is the first regulatory body in the United States to recommend implementation of standards on the OSAC Registry. Among its many past actions, the Commission, a national leader in forensic oversight and reform, has imposed mandatory accreditation and licensing requirements and has recommended a moratorium on the admissibility of bitemark comparison evidence.

OSAC, which is administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), works to strengthen the nation’s use of forensic science by facilitating the development of technically sound standards and promoting their adoption by the forensic community. All OSAC Registry Approved standards have passed a review of technical merit by forensic practitioners, academic researchers, statisticians and measurement scientists. In addition to posting approved standards to the Registry, OSAC helps the labs implement those standards. 

“The Texas Forensic Science Commission’s leadership is evident from the high-quality forensic science analysis being performed by their accredited laboratories. We are excited to collaborate with them and have the OSAC Registry Approved standards be part of that effort.” said John Paul Jones, OSAC Program Manager.  

OSAC’s roughly 560 members have expertise in 25 specific forensic disciplines, as well as general expertise in scientific research, measurement science, statistics, law and policy. To date, 24 standards have been posted to the OSAC Registry, and more than 200 are in the pipeline. 

Released November 22, 2019, Updated December 5, 2019