AAFS Submits Application to ANSI to Become an SDO

Recently we announced that the Academy was the recipient of a $1.5M grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) to establish AAFS as an accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO). We are pleased to announce the AAFS submitted our application to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) last Wednesday, August 26 — meeting our first LJAF milestone and beginning the process.

We will join the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), the American Dental Association (ADA), and other accredited SDOs available to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) subcommittees as a means to create national forensic science standards. We believe it is logical for the Academy, as one of the largest and most diverse forensic science organizations, to share our members’ expertise that covers all 24 OSAC subcommittees’ technology and to ensure that standards are set by the forensic science community itself.

Several important steps in this process have already occurred. After the decision was made to pursue this SDO effort, an SDO committee was established with Lucy Davis as chair and members Ken Ascheim, Sue Ballou, Dave Fowler, Matt Gamette, Jennifer Limoges, Chris Plourd, and Walter Rowe. While the Academy Board of Directors approved funding toward the Academy becoming an SDO, we successfully applied for additional funds in the form of the LJAF grant on the condition that any standards during the time of grant funding would be made freely available to all. The Academy contracted with Mary McKiel, a leading expert in the field, to help file the application. Mary’s spent much of her distinguished career as the Standards Executive for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but also has served as Vice-Chair of the ANSI Board of Directors and Chairman of the ASTM Board, among other roles in the field, and has won many prestigious awards, such as the 2014 ANSI Astin-Polk International Standards Medal, the 2010 Leo B. Moore medal from the Society for Standards Professionals, and the 2008 ANSI George S. Wham Leadership Medal. The Academy’s Executive Committee met in Las Vegas on July 31, 2015, to discuss and debate the direction we should take in developing our policies and procedures. With Ms. McKiel’s help, the draft policies and procedures were written and submitted with our application. Input is currently being solicited from the sections on these procedures, as we can still submit amendments. The Board decided to spin this activity out as a wholly owned subsidiary corporation, which we will entitle the AAFS Standards Board, LLC, primarily for flexibility of the bylaws. Discussions have ensued and continue concerning additional issues including insurance, legal, and financial matters. We anticipate hiring staff dedicated to this effort soon.

Standards development will be conducted using technical committees, called “Consensus Bodies.” The Consensus Bodies will be appointed by an Academy Standard Board (ASB) from volunteers from Interested Organizations in specified categories (user/government, user/industry, producers, independent laboratories and/or testing facilities, consumer groups, academia, and general interest). ANSI requires the process to be open and balanced and not dominated by any single entity, including the Academy. The ASB will strive to achieve this balance. Also, public comment and an appellate mechanism is a part of this standards-setting process.