New commission on forensic science names its aces

The government has made a new commitment to improving the forensic science field. Together, the departments of Justice and Commerce announced their appointments to the newly created National Commission on Forensic Science.

The purpose of the commission is to develop guidance in line with the intersections of forensic science and the criminal justice system. It will also work to develop policy recommendations for the U.S. attorney general, including uniform codes for professional responsibility and requirements for formal training and certification.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole and Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Patrick Gallagher will co-chair the commission.

“I appreciate the commitment each of the commissioners has made and look forward to working with them to strengthen the validity and reliability of the forensic sciences and enhance quality assurance and quality control,” Cole said. “Scientifically valid and accurate forensic analysis supports all aspects of our justice system.”


The commission will be composed of federal, state and local forensic science service providers, research scientists and academic, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, and other stakeholders from around the country. According to the release by NIST, the variety of the people involved speaks to the many different entities that contribute to forensic science practice in the U.S. and will ensure competency.

“This new commission represents an extremely broad range of expertise and skills,” Gallagher said. “It will help ensure that forensic science is supported by the strongest possible science-based evidence gathering, analysis, and measurement.”

The commissioners were chosen from 300 candidates and include the chief detective of the New York Police Department, the senior forensic scientist of the scientific analysis section of the FBI, the director of the Army’s Defense Forensic Science Center, to name a few.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren weighed in on the new commission, saying, “This latest and most impressive collaboration between the Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will help ensure that the forensic sciences are supported by the most rigorous standards available—a foundational requirement in a nation built on the credo of ‘justice for all.’”

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