CFSO Forensic SDO Legislation Update

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Source: Kenneth E. Melson, JD, AAFS CFSO Liaison

The long-term goal of any program is to ensure that a federal grant/program is authorized and appropriated. If authorized, then the program/grant will have a better chance of being put into the annual President’s budget submission to Congress each year. An authorization will establish, continue, or modify an agency’s program to include setting a funding level. An appropriation bill provides the actual funding. The goal of the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO) is to achieve both for forensic science Standards Development Organizations (SDOs).

As we enter 2022, the House and Senate are finalizing S. 1260, the United States Innovation and Competition Act. The House bill includes authorizing language on the SDO. The following is the proposed language in the authorization bill.


(a) NONGOVERNMENTAL STANDARDS DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘nongovernmental standards development organization’’ means a nongovernmental standards development organization (as defined in section 2(e) of the Office of Management and Budget Circular A–119 (relating to Federal participation in the development and use of voluntary consensus standards in conformity assessment activities), or any successor document) that adheres to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Essential Requirements for Due Process for American National Standards.

(b) GRANT AUTHORITY.—The Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Director, shall establish a competitive program of grants for nongovernmental standards development organizations for the purposes described in subsection (c).

(c) PURPOSES.—A grant awarded under subsection (b) shall be used to develop, approve, disseminate, maintain, and review forensic science voluntary consensus standards and best practices that shall be available to the public free of charge.

(d) ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS.—The Director may promulgate such requirements, guidelines, and procedures as may be necessary to carry out this section.

(e) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $2,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

The appropriations process, however, is stalled. As this authorization is in the Department of Commerce, the appropriations would be in the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee. Because the appropriations process has stalled, the government is under a continuing resolution until February 18. Talks are on-going. CFSO will continue to update the forensic science community on this important and timely topic.