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December 14, 2019
The Houston Forensic Science Center is voluntarily adopting national industry-leading
standards for forensic analysis in a continuous effort to support improved quality and
standardization of the field.
HFSC’s board of directors authorized Friday the adoption of internal protocols and
standards that will align with standards approved by the Organization of Scientific
Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC), which is administered by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
OSAC’s mission is to strengthen forensic science by coordinating the development of
sound scientific standards for the field and is part of the federal government’s efforts in
the past decade to ensure that science presented in court has an objective foundation.
“HFSC’s history as a police-run crime lab with a multitude of problems makes us all the
more aware of how crucial it is to ensure standards, policies and protocols used by our
analysts and examiners are based on strong, sound, objective science,” said Dr. Peter
Stout, HFSC’s CEO and president.
“HFSC has changed policies and procedures since its inception in 2014 to ensure the
best quality forensic work to Houstonians. Adopting these standards, the result of years
of work by the nation’s top forensic scientists, is the logical next step,” Dr. Stout said.
Protocols in HFSC’s forensic biology/DNA section and seized drugs, which analyzes
substances to determine if they are illegal drugs, will change to better align with the
OSAC-approved standards. Most other HFSC disciplines will not be impacted by the
All HFSC disciplines, including the Crime Scene Unit, are accredited to international
standards and HFSC considers them to be minimum requirements. OSAC takes this to
the next level by supporting the development of standards requiring scientifically
sound protocols, formal education, training, competency testing, continuing education
and other measures.
OSAC standards also help promote consistency among forensic labs nationwide.
“HFSC staff from all levels have participated in OSAC committee discussions, meetings
and standards development. Like other forensic agencies nationwide, our analysts are
familiar with the work that OSAC has been doing and the direction the field is going,”
Dr. Stout said. “Now we are taking the steps required to lead the rest of the country in
the direction of adoption and standardization.”
HFSC is a local government corporation that provides forensic services to the City of
Houston and other local agencies. HFSC is overseen by a Board of Directors appointed
by the Mayor of Houston and confirmed by the Houston City Council. Its management
structure is designed to be responsive to a 2009 recommendation by the National
Academy of Sciences that called for crime laboratories to be independent of law
enforcement and prosecutorial branches of government.
HFSC operates in seven forensic disciplines.
Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Director of Communications/PIO


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