If you are requested by a court, lawyer, company or private citizen to examine an object or location and the result of that examination is meant for use in a criminal or civil hearing, you've just become a forensic scientist.
In reality, any test or inspection performed could ultimately be meant for use in court. For example, a manufacturer may request failure analysis testing on a manufactured item to help improve their product, but another customer may request the same analysis with the ultimate aim of using the results in a civil trial. The work isn't any different, but how you approach the examination is. If the work is done incorrectly or if the item evaluated isn’t properly secured when not being examined, your report may be ruled inadmissible in court.
A2LA accreditation to a recognized international standard and assessment to the A2LA forensic accreditation program supplemental requirements convey to potential customers and to judicial authorities that you have confidence in your work product and that this confidence has been confirmed by a third party, non-profit organization.
New: On January 13, 2014, the National DNA Index System (NDIS) Procedures Board approved the designation of the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) as an accrediting agency under the United States Federal DNA Identification Act (42 U.S.C. Â§14132).
As a designated agency, A2LA, through its Forensic Accreditation Program, is now recognized to accredit:
- Laboratories performing DNA analyses on DNA samples obtained from identified subject(s) for purposes of entering the resulting DNA profile or DNA record into a DNA database.
- Laboratories performing DNA analyses on known or casework reference samples considered evidence by that laboratory.
In additional, A2LA is approved to perform biennial external audits to the FBI Quality Assurance Standards in accordance with FBI QAS, Section 15.2 which requires that at least every two years, an external audit be performed.
A2LA offers two options for accreditation: laboratory accreditation and inspection body accreditation. (Click here to download flyer).
Laboratories seeking accreditation will be assessed for compliance to international standard ISO/IEC 17025, A2LA document R101 - General Requirements: Accreditation of ISO-IEC 17025 Laboratories and A2LA supplemental document R221 - Specific Requirements: Forensic Examination Accreditation Program - Testing.
Laboratories seeking licensure in Maryland to offer forensic services will also be assessed for compliance to A2LA document R221a - Annex A: Specific Requirements for Forensic Facilities Licensed in Maryland.
Inspection bodies (e.g. crime scene units) seeking accreditation will be assessed for compliance to international standard ISO/IEC 17020, A2LA document R301 - General Requirements: Accreditation of ISO-IEC 17020 Inspection Bodies and A2LA supplemental document R309 - Specific Requirements: Forensic Examination Accreditation Program - Inspection.
Organizations wishing to attain both laboratory and inspection body accreditation must complete both application processes.