On October 1, 2020 NIST officially launched a new and streamlined Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science. The changes to OSAC’s structure and processes, which are detailed below, will enable OSAC to make high-quality, science-based standards available to forensic laboratories more quickly.
Previously, standards documents received final technical review after they were published by a standards developing organization (SDO) and while they were being considered for placement on the OSAC Registry. Now, newly conceived scientific and technical review panels (STRPs) will review many of the proposed standards before they are sent to an SDO. Stakeholders will also be invited to submit editorial and technical feedback on the draft at this earlier stage. Incorporating diverse input — including legal, human factors, quality assurance and statistics — earlier in the process will reduce the number of revisions required later and reduce the total time required for proposed standards to be developed and published.
The OSAC Registry will continue to be a trusted repository of high-quality, technically sound standards for forensic science. Previously, the registry only included published standards that had been reviewed and approved by OSAC. Now, OSAC’s proposed standards will also be included on the OSAC Registry. This indicates that the proposed standards have undergone a rigorous quality review and will allow labs to get a jump on implementing high quality standards.
We have reduced the amount of paperwork and the number of steps involved in the OSAC Registry approval process. This will make the process more efficient while maintaining the rigor of technical review and the quality and diversity of stakeholder input.
OSAC has published the Registry Implementation: A How-to Guide. This document provides possible pathways and examples for laboratories and other forensic science services providers to consider as they look to incorporate the OSAC Registry standards. Additional resources can be found on OSAC’s Registry Implementation webpage.