An Update from The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC)
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The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science’s Biology/DNA Scientific Area Committee has been extremely busy over the past year.
Between the SAC’s three subcommittees, 23 standards have been written at the OSAC and submitted to AAFS Standards Board (ASB) for review and publication through the standards development process. All of these documents are available in draft format on the OSAC website. Additionally, several OSAC submitted documents have been published by ASB in the last year and these documents are now moving through the OSAC Registry approval process.
ANSI/ASB Standard 022, The Standard for Forensic DNA Analysis Training Programs, First Edition, 2019 is a parent document for all of the OSAC-developed biology training standards. This was initially written by the Biological Methods Subcommittee and was published by ASB and is currently undergoing the Registry approval process. The Biological Methods subcommittee currently has 13 additional documents at ASB covering topics ranging from training and validation in DNA methods to general serology standards as well as a standard related to preventing and monitoring DNA contamination. The subcommittee is currently drafting standards related to MPS/NGS as well as familial searching (both in conjunction with the Biological Data, Interpretation and Reporting Subcommittee) along with finishing up their training and validation standards.
The Biological Data Interpretation and Reporting subcommittee has written two standards that have been published at ASB, 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 and ANSI/ASB Standard 040, Standard for Forensic DNA Interpretation and Comparison Protocols, First Edition, 2019. These are currently undergoing the OSAC Registry approval process. Documents for standards or best practices related to probabilistic genotyping validation as well as forensic software validation have been submitted to ASB along with standards related to evaluating a laboratory’s mixture interpretation protocol and assigning propositions for likelihood ratios. The subcommittee is currently developing standards or best practice documents related to rapid DNA, elimination databases, statistical analysis, determination of thresholds, interpreting data with contamination and failed controls, testimony regarding DNA activity level propositions as well as finalizing their training standards.
The Wildlife Forensic Subcommittee currently has six published standards at ASB: ANSI/ASB Standard 019, Wildlife Forensics General Standards, First Edition, 2019; ANSI/ASB Standard 028, Wildlife Forensics Morphology Standards, First Edition, 2019; ANSI/ASB Standard 029, Report Writing in Wildlife Forensics: Morphology and Genetics, First Edition, 2019; ANSI/ASB Standard 046, Wildlife Forensics Validation Standards—STR Analysis, First Edition, 2019; ANSI/ASB Standard 047, Wildlife Forensics Validation Standard—Validating New Primers for Sequencing, First Edition, 2019; and ANSI/ASB Standard 048, Wildlife Forensic DNA Standard Procedures, First Edition, 2019. Additionally, they have a short communication related to a panel of 12 microsatellite primers for bear that is being published in FSI Genetics as well as two additional documents that are currently at ASB for review and publication. At the subcommittee level, they are working on items addressing a variety of topics including statistical and in-house databases, the building of new panels for species identification, curation of reference samples as well as geographic assignment.
In the upcoming year as OSAC moves into its next phase, OSAC 2.0, the two human forensic subcommittees (Biological Methods and Biological Data Interpretation and Reporting Subcommittees) will be combined into one subcommittee addressing human forensic analysis. Currently these groups are already working jointly on documents (MPS/NGS and Familial Searching) so it is expected to be a smooth transition. And the group will not only be focusing on DNA analysis methods but also serological techniques which will be more in-line with the work being performed in the Wildlife Forensics Subcommittee. We look forward to the new challenges that will be brought on by the changes and expect the next year to be a busy one.
For more information on OSAC, please visit our website at https://www.nist.gov/topics/organization-scientific-area-committees-forensic-science.
If you are interested in applying to join OSAC, please see https://www.nist.gov/topics/organization-scientific-area-committees-forensic-science/apply-join-osac.
To download the documents published by ASB, please see http://www.asbstandardsboard.org/published-documents/.