What are the Accreditation Requirements?
Can I Get a Pre-Accreditation Audit?
Is It Worth the Pain?
How Are Minor Technical Transgressions
How Does FQS-I Treat a Problem in One Section of a
Does Accreditation of an Individual Section Have to
Wait Until All Areas are in Compliance?
Are Results Known When the Team Leaves?
What Are the Proficiency Testing Requirements of the
Is There Any Reason To Be Afraid of This New ISO
Is ISO Relevant To the Needs of a Forensic Testing
What Are the Accreditation
"The applicant agency must satisfy all of the Management and
Technical Requirements of ISO/IEC17025, as referred to in the FQS-I
General Requirements for Accreditation (GRA) and published in
ISO/IEC17025. The agency must also satisfy the requirements of the
applicable Forensic Requirements for Accreditation. These
additional criteria are intended to describe what constitutes
acceptable practice in the particular field of accreditation."
"Compliance is measured by an on-site assessment of policies,
procedures and practices. The FQS-I accreditation cycle is
flexible. The recommended duration of accreditation is four years,
but a different period may be established depending on the needs of
the customer, with a maximum of five years. However, in all cases
there must be sufficiently rigorous surveillance to ensure that
conformance to standards is maintained.
Can I Get a Pre-Accreditation
Yes, a laboratory can request a preliminary visit as part of its
preparations for accreditation. The visit will consist of a full
audit to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 and all other standards that would
apply - for example, the National Quality Assurance Standards in
the case of U.S Laboratories conducting forensic DNA testing. The
team will provide a report indentifying non-conformities (instances
where the standards are not being met), concerns (policies,
procedure or practices that, while not in conflict with the
requirements of the standards, may lead to a detrimental effect on
the quality of testing and that therefore requires attention), and
comments (examples of good practices). Team members are not
permitted to provide advice and the report is solely a factual
account of conformity.
Is It Worth the
There is a myth that accreditation is one of the "no pain, no
gain" areas of life for a testing laboratory. However, pain is not
a requirement during the accreditation process. FQS-I accreditation
program will assist you in creating an effective quality system
that focuses on providing a quality service to your clients. The
assessment process should be a positive experience at all times,
ultimately accomplishing something of which you can be proud. Sure,
during the initial review, there may well be several areas of
non-conformance. The assessors should have persuasive, objective
evidence that you are not in conformance. They should be able to
show you where the problem lies and why it is a non-conformance
with the standards. The combination of an experienced, well-trained
Lead Assessor and a Technical Assessor team with current best
practice knowledge in the test area creates the basis for an
effective and fair evaluation.
How Are Minor Technical
FQS-I program focuses on the effectiveness of your quality
system and the quality of your test results. Non-conformances that
do not directly affect the quality of your test results are treated
as opportunities for improvement.
How Does FQS-I Treat a Problem in
One Section of a Laboratory?
FQS-I treats individual testing areas in each laboratory
separately. ISO accreditation programs, run in compliance with
national and international standards for the operation of
accrediting bodies, require that the laboratory has a detailed
scope of accreditation. For example, the assessment would focus on
your fire debris testing, without regard for other testing areas
that may also be conducted in your facility.
Does Accreditation of an
Individual Section Have to Wait Until All Areas are in
No. For example, if the document and firearms examination
sections are ready, but drug chemistry and latent prints are not,
the accreditation can proceed in any or all compliant sections. Any
restrictions will be declared in the scope, and other sections can
be added as soon as they are ready. This can be a very effective
way to pursue accreditation as the non-conforming sections can
build on the experience of the ones that have met the accreditation
Are Results Known When the Team
Yes. FQS-I's Lead Assessor provides a list of non-conformities,
concerns and comments at the close out meeting.
What are the Proficiency Testing
Requirements of the FQS-I Program?
Apart from complying with the requirements of any applicable
community consensus standard for proficiency testing, such as the
requirements of the National QA Standards for DNA Testing, all you
have to show is an effective proficiency testing (PT) program as
part of the way that you control your quality. You have the options
of internal programs and voluntary inter-laboratory collaborative
trials as well as purchasing from external sources. The use of
standards and certified reference materials are considered along
with your PT program.
Is There Any Reason To Be Afraid
of This New ISO Stuff?
No reason at all. ISO accreditation has been around for decades
and is working effectively in countless testing laboratories in all
Is ISO Relevant To the Needs of
a Forensic Testing Laboratory?
Yes, the program consists of three parts: One part deals with
your management system, verifying that you have the systems to do
the right thing in the right way. The second part deals with
technical matters, addressing quality assurance at the testing,
evaluation, and reporting levels. The third area utilizes a set of
field specific criteria to illustrate compliance factors in the
FQS-I's program uses field criteria based on the international
consensus guide for forensic science published by the International
Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) (www.ilac.org), as
well as any relevant national QA criteria (such as those published
by the various Scientific Working Groups (SWG). FQS-I also provides
a range of guidelines to assist with specific clauses in the