What is the difference between full implementation and partial implementation of a standard? Many forensic science service providers (FSSPs) have shared their experiences with the OSAC Program Office about the challenge of defining partial implementation. Does the FSSP satisfy sufficient criteria to report that it has achieved partial implementation of a standard or should they report it as not yet implemented?
The purpose of this article is to share the experiences of six FSSPs in addressing the challenge of defining partial implementation and the recommendations they provided to help others mitigate this challenge.
The design of OSAC was created specifically to give voice to grass roots FSSPs in the development and implementation of standards. Throughout the history of OSAC, its membership has been composed of more than 50% practitioners. The reason behind this operational strategy is that OSAC can only succeed if the forensic science community buys into the standards that have been developed and posted on the OSAC Registry. The best way to win buy-in is to empower practitioners with a voice in the process of standards development and implementation. While it is no guarantee that the forensic science community will buy into implementing standards by consistently maintaining more than 50% practitioner representation on OSAC membership, there is certainly no possibility of success without it.
For this reason, OSAC has consistently encouraged forensic science service providers to own their quality system from the bench up. By developing a framework where the bench scientists through their section technical leaders are represented to senior management and the QA manager, participative management is the surest path to commitment to standards implementation in any organization. With over 140 standards now on the OSAC Registry and more than 125 laboratories having submitted to OSAC their standards implementation declaration forms, we have evidence-based data to demonstrate that strategy of participative management is bearing fruit in achieving the OSAC mission.
Rather than creating one single OSAC definition of full and partial implementation and forcing that definition to be applicable and effective for all forensic science service providers from the top down, we elected instead to ask six FSSPs to provide examples of their own definitions and share them with other forensic science organizations in the newsletter and the OSAC website. We encourage each agency to discuss and develop their own definitions internally and apply them consistently across all disciplines within their organizations.
1. From Tate Yeatman, Crime Laboratory Director, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office:
2. From Eva M. L. King, Quality Assurance Director, Wisconsin Stat Crime Laboratories:
3. From Reta Newman, Director, Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory:
4. From Peter Stout, CEO and Erika Ziemak, former Quality Manager, Houston Forensic Science Center:
A slightly different approach was adopted by the Kentucky State Police Forensic Science Laboratories and the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory Division. Their quality system operates without using specific definitions of full or partial implementation but rather uses the following language in their Quality Manuals.
5. From Jeremy Triplett, Laboratory Director, Kentucky State Police Central Forensic Science Laboratory:
Seized Drugs Quality Manual (current revision effective 7/27/20):
7.2.1 Selection and verification of methods
184.108.40.206 The Kentucky State Police Seized Drugs section adheres to standards and guidelines from the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC) and recommendations by the Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG) in formulating its testing methods and procedures. During the annual review of seized drugs documents, OSAC and SWGDRUG standards, guidelines, and recommendations that have been published within the prior year will be evaluated for incorporation into the laboratory’s policies and procedures.
7.7 Ensuring the validity of results
7.7.1 The seized drugs section ensures the validity of results with quality control schemes including but not limited to:
Adherence to Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) standards and guidelines
6. From Melissa Valadez, Assistant Laboratory Director – Technical Services, Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory Division: