President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Report


The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a multi-disciplinary professional organization with a major objective of improving practice within the field of forensic science. The organization recognizes the need for improvement, where needed, and view the findings in the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report as notice of needed validation and improvement. While the Academy does not endorse every statement within the PCAST report, we appreciate the efforts of PCAST to clarify the scientific meaning of validity with respect to feature comparison analysis. Several Academy members were invited to present information to PCAST and other members supplied comments concerning research and current practices. PCAST was given an enormous task with time restrictions to review very broad subjects and may not have had the opportunity to evaluate additional information for inclusion in the report. The PCAST report is an important start to the discussion of scientific validity and we look forward to continuing that discussion with the larger community of forensic science practitioners.

As PCAST has conducted its work on assessments of scientific validity, the Academy, the National Commission on Forensic Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institute of Justice, and others within the forensic science community have been working to improve standards, training, quality control, oversight, and other necessary components of forensic science services. We look forward to integrating the work of PCAST into the overall efforts to strengthen forensic science.

We particularly welcome PCAST joining our call for increased funding for empirical research supporting all of the forensic sciences. The commitment of major research funds is essential to achieve further evaluation of method validity. The entire membership of our organization has a vested interest in strengthening forensic science and promoting its more rigorous use in the justice system. For our 7000 members, forensic science is not just a major or a career; it is commitment to a way of building knowledge and determining the truth to support the pursuit of justice for all. We recognize that science only advances with transparency, openness, and a commitment to the scientific method. This is our cause and we welcome all who join us to increase the scientific knowledge that supports our contributions to the justice system.