Welcome to the Alabama
Department of Forensic Sciences
ACCREDITATION

ANAB Accreditation



THE VALUE OF ACCREDITATION

The value of a forensic laboratory receiving accreditation cannot be overstated. Accreditation provides that essential, external, independent review, and demonstrates that all forensic services are provided in accordance with accepted standards. Accreditation increases the level of confidence for our customers and all interested parties in the work and work product of our laboratory.

Accreditation is a voluntary, continuous process that involves annual audits that review and evaluate management practices, personnel qualifications, technical procedures, quality assurance program and facilities to help the laboratory provide a more effective overall service.


ADFS HISTORY OF ACCREDITATION

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) has been involved with developing national standards for the quality of forensic science laboratory services since the Department's creation in 1935. Numerous members of ADFS have been involved with establishing national forensic science standards since the early 1970s. This is exemplified by the fact that a former director was the first Chairman of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) Committee on Laboratory Accreditation in 1981. This committee later became known as the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB).

On October 26, 2003, the ADFS laboratory system, which consisted of nine (9) forensic laboratories, was accredited to the ASCLD/LAB - Crime Laboratory Accreditation Program. The accreditation program is a voluntary program that requires laboratories demonstrate that management, operations, personnel, procedures, equipment, physical plant, health and safety and security procedures meet established national standards. Laboratory accreditation is a formal assessment and recognition by an impartial, competent authority that the laboratories are capable of meeting and maintaining defined standards of performance, competence and professionalism. The forensic disciplines accredited by the accreditation process were forensic biology (DNA), toxicology, drug chemistry, firearm/tool mark, latent fingerprints, questioned documents, fire debris and trace evidence.

According to former ADFS Director Taylor Noggle, "None of this would be possible without the diligence and hard work of department staff and assistance provided by the State of Alabama and Alabama's national delegation. Thanks to the dedication of the employees of this agency, ADFS was able to accomplish this important milestone for the State of Alabama and the Alabama criminal justice system. During this time of shrinking state revenues, budgets must be supplemented with Federal grant dollars. It is clear that federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Justice (NIJ) will not consider federal funding to those laboratories that are not accredited by ASCLD/LAB".

In 2012, the department began the process of preparing for accreditation against the International Organization of Standards, ISO 17025. ADFS testing and calibration laboratories were later assessed against the ISO 17025 and supplemental ASCLD/LAB requirements. ADFS was found to be in compliance, and thus awarded ASCLD/LAB-International accreditation November of 2013.

  • International Standard ISO 17025 – General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories,
  • ASCLD/LAB-International (2011 Edition)–Supplemental Requirements for the Accreditation of Forensic Science Testing Laboratories,
  • ASCLD/LAB-International (2007 Edition)–Supplemental Requirements for the Accreditation of Breath Alcohol Calibration Laboratories,
  • FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories (2011 Edition), and
  • FBI Quality Assurance Standards for DNA Databasing Laboratories (2011 Edition).

In 2016, ASCLD/LAB merged with the American National Standards Institute – American Society of Quality (ANSI-ASQ) National Accreditation Board (ANAB). Shortly following in 2018, ANSI signed an agreement with ASQ to acquire full interests in ANAB. This created a new legal entity, the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). ADFS maintains their accreditation certification in the existing six (6) technical laboratories through ANAB accrediting body.

ADFS participates in internal audits and external surveillance inspections yearly. ADFS is also inspected against the FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA every two years and participates in a full external assessment by the accrediting body every four years.

The department is currently accredited in the following Scope of Services for forensic testing and calibration services.


ACCREDITED SCOPE OF SERVICES


The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) testing laboratories have been continuously accredited since 2003 through the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) or ANSI/ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), and we take great pride in this accomplishment.


ADDITIONAL ACCREDITATIONS

FBI’S QUALITY ASSURANCE STANDARDS FOR DNA ANALYSIS

In addition to the stringent requirements of ANAB, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences also complies with the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standards (QAS) for Forensic DNA Testing and DNA Databasing Laboratories. Adherence to the QAS is required by Federal law as a condition of a laboratory’s participation in the National DNA Index System.

NAME ACCREDITATION

The National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) is the national professional organization of physician medical examiners, medicolegal death investigators and death investigation system administrators who perform the official duties of the medicolegal investigation of deaths of public interest in the United States.

The NAME Accreditation Program is a peer review system with the goal to improve system performance through objective evaluation and constructive criticism. Application of the NAME standards will aid in developing and maintaining a high quality of medicolegal investigation of death for the communities and jurisdictions which the medical examiner serves.

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences – Montgomery Medical Examiner’s Office was assessed against the standards of the NAME Accreditation Program, found to be in compliance, and awarded NAME Accreditation in 2013. The examiner’s office was re-accredited in 2019.