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The following is a request for public comment on revisions to the FBI National QAS for Forensic DNA testing laboratories. The Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) has posted the proposed revisions on their website at https://www.swgdam.org/public-comments.
The SWGDAM is a group of scientists representing federal, state, and local forensic DNA laboratories in the United States and Canada. One of SWGDAM’s responsibilities is the recommendation of revisions to the FBI’s QAS for DNA Analysis. Compliance with the QAS is required by federal law as a condition of a laboratory’s participation in the National DNA Index System and for federal grant eligibility. Historically, the SWGDAM Quality Assurance Committee is the principle group tasked with drafting revisions to the original QAS. Since issuance of the original QAS, advancements in science and the introduction of new technologies have necessitated changes to the original standards. Many of these past revisions have clarified or strengthened existing standards in the areas of education, training, and continuing education of the DNA personnel. As new revisions have been proposed by SWGDAM, these revisions have been discussed at SWGDAM public meetings and laboratories performing forensic DNA analysis have been provided with the opportunity to comment; accrediting agencies and their constituencies have also been provided the opportunity to comment. SWGDAM has previously proposed revisions for the QAS in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2014. that were approved and issued by the FBI Director. The current QAS and QAS Audit documents are available at the FBI’s web site at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/html/codis1.htm.
Following completion of a multi-year review, SWGDAM is recommending changes to the Forensic QAS. These proposed revisions to the Forensic QAS were presented to the SWGDAM membership at its July 2017 meeting (July 11-13, 2017) and approved on August 4, 2017. In accordance with the SWGDAM Bylaws (Version July 17, 2014), these proposed changes are being made available for public comment via the SWGDAM website for a minimum of 30 days. The new proposed version of the QAS continues to describe the quality assurance requirements that laboratories performing forensic DNA testing or utilizing the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) shall follow to ensure the quality and integrity of the data generated by the laboratory. These requirements now also apply to forensic DNA testing laboratories using Rapid DNA instruments/systems on casework reference samples. (The use of Rapid DNA instruments/systems is not approved for use on forensic samples.)