Volume 27, Issue 4 (October 1982)
A Quality Assurance Program for the Laboratory Examination of Arson and Explosives Cases
Quality assurance in forensic laboratories is no less important than quality control in industry. The prosecutor, defense attorney, judge or jury and, of course, the defendant have every right to expect an analysis of the highest possible quality by the forensic scientist. The life or liberty of an individual may hinge on the analysis conducted by a forensic scientist and corresponding testimony in court. A quality assurance program has been implemented for arson and explosive cases. A statistically valid number of case examinations are reviewed annually for critical, major, and minor defects according to predetermined factors such as turnaround time, tests performed, conclusions reached, and notes taken. Questionnaires on the quality and responsiveness of the laboratories are sent to the submitters of evidence. The forensic chemists are subjected to blind testing semiannually. Laboratory-prepared samples disguised as actual cases are submitted to the various laboratories by special agents in the field and the reports are evaluated.