A New Forensic Standard From the AAFS Standards Board (ASB)

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Source: Teresa Ambrosius, ASB Secretariat

The ASB is pleased to announce the publication of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) /ASB Standard 020, Standard for Validation Studies of DNA Mixtures, and Development and Verification of a Laboratory’s Mixture Interpretation Protocol, First Edition, 2018.

This standard is produced through ASB’s DNA Consensus Body in a consensus process accredited by the ANSI. The standard is based partly on earlier work by the Biology/DNA Interpretation and Reporting Subcommittee of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees.

This standard sets forth the requirements for the design and evaluation of internal validation studies for mixed DNA samples and the development of appropriate interpretation protocols for mixtures based on the validation studies performed. This standard includes a requirement that the laboratory verify and document that the mixture interpretation protocols developed from the completed validation studies generate reliable and consistent interpretations and conclusions for the types of mixed DNA samples typically encountered by the laboratory.

This standard applies to any type of DNA testing technology and methodology used, including, but not limited to, Short Tandem Repeat (STR) testing, DNA sequencing, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) testing, haplotype testing, traditional and rapid protocols, etc., in which mixtures of DNA may be encountered, analyzed, and interpreted.

ASB documents are available for download in the Published Documents portion of the ASB website.

The ASB is an ANSI-accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO) with the purpose of providing accessible, high-quality, science-based consensus forensic standards. The ASB is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), established in 2015 and accredited by the ANSI in 2016. The ASB is partially funded by a grant through the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

The ASB consists of Consensus Bodies (CB), which are open to all materially interested and affected individuals, companies, and organizations; a Board of Directors; and Staff.


ANSI facilitates the development of American National Standards (ANS) by accrediting the procedures of SDOs. Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures used by the standards body in connection with the development of ANS meet the Institute’s essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process.

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995 (Public Law 104-113) and its implementation directive, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119, direct federal agencies to utilize voluntary consensus standards where feasible and to participate as appropriate in voluntary consensus standards-development activities. Standards developed in accordance with ANSI’s accreditation requirements satisfy obligations incumbent on federal agencies to use or adopt voluntary consensus standards.

In order to maintain ANSI accreditation, standards developers are required to consistently adhere to a set of requirements or procedures that govern the consensus development process. These requirements are set forth in a document known as the ANSI Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards (www.ansi.org/essentialrequirements).

Due process is the key to ensuring that ANS are developed in an environment that is equitable, accessible, and responsive to the requirements of various stakeholders. The open and fair ANS process ensures that all interested and affected parties have an opportunity to participate in a standard’s development. It also serves and protects the public interest since standards developers accredited by ANSI must meet the Institute’s essential requirements and other due process safeguards.