NIST Has Announced the Restructuring OSAC (OSAC 2.0) Plan

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Source: Lucy A. Davis, BHS, AAFS Representative, OSAC Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB)

In the Fall of 2017, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sent out a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register on The Development of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science 2.0. Both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Board and the Academy Standards Board (ASB) submitted responses on the RFI. This week, NIST announced their plan for OSAC 2.0. Prior to the NIST announcement, the OSAC Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB) and OSAC leadership provided feedback to NIST and offered recommendations for improvement.

The OSAC 2.0 structure will streamline the processes used by the OSAC committees to develop draft standards, allow public comment earlier in the process, add Technical Review Panels, reduce redundancy within procedures, and have OSAC draft documents available on the OSAC website while under development at a Standards Development Organization (SDO) (a process currently allowed by the ASB). Once the standards are published by an SDO, the approved documents will be placed on the OSAC Registry. Richard Cavanagh, director of the NIST Special Programs Office, explained, “The changes we are making will reduce the number of approvals required without compromising the technical rigor of the review process.”

An overview of the proposed changes can be found on the OSAC website. I encourage all AAFS members to review the new plan. While some details of the structure are still under review, the transition to OSAC 2.0 will be completed by September 30, 2020.