The OIG has made a number of valuable recommendations for improving the FBI Laboratory. The FBI concurs in most of those recommendations, and has already implemented a large number of them. In addition, the FBI has initiated a number of other efforts to improve the Laboratorys responsiveness and effectiveness. Those efforts include:
·Creating an Evidence Response Team (ERT) Unit, with responsibilities at every Field Office, in order to expand the number of personnel who are fully trained and equipped to handle the identification, collection, and preservation of evidence at crime scenes.
·With others in the scientific community, developing technical working groups in various forensic disciplines to develop and standardize protocols and analytical practices. These working groups consist of experts in scientific disciplines from both inside and outside the FBI. For example, technical working groups for DNA, Latent Fingerprints and paints, polymers and fibers have been formed and have already resulted in improved procedures and practices. Additional working groups are being planned in connection with the analysis of shoe prints, handwriting, and tire treads.
·Forming a technical working group for bombing and explosives analysis. The group will include world-class explosive and forensic bombing experts from several international laboratories, as well as labs in the United States.
·Initiating communications with relevant sectors of the Federal scientific community (e.g., Department of Energy, Department of Defense and Environmental Protection Agency) to improve and share information regarding forensic applications, the transfer of technology, research and development, and specialized training.
·Forming and strengthening a Quality Assurance Unit to implement its Quality Assurance Program and assist the Laboratory in obtaining accreditation.
·Dedicating $30 million to modernizing laboratory equipment and instrumentation. Significant funding has been obtained to enhance the following programs: the ERT, the Computer Analysis and Response Team (forensic electronic media analysis), the Bomb Data Center (bomb technician and investigator training), and the Hazardous Materials Response Unit (response to and analysis of the illicit use of dangerous biological, chemical and nuclear materials).
·Enhancing the educational opportunities for laboratory personnel by reestablishing a partnership with the George Washington University for a Master of Science Program.
Many of the OIG's suggestions reflect the criteria for accreditation by ASCLD/LAB. While such accreditation is by no means required of any forensic laboratory, the FBI believes that the ASCLD/LAB standards provide a useful basis to measure the performance of its Laboratory. Thus, the Bureau intends to have all of the components of the Laboratory comply with ASCLD/LAB standards by October 1, 1997, even if formal accreditation is not available in a particular forensic discipline. [See Memorandum to Mr. Ahlerich from R.S. Murch dated 10/2/95 (requesting that the EU be included in the Laboratory s accreditation process).]
The FBI remains very proud of its Laboratory and the dedicated men and women who serve it. A commitment to quality has always been a central part of their values and mission. The OIG has identified several areas where improvement is needed, and the FBI has and will seriously consider all of its comments. It is important to emphasize, however, that the OIG has also praised the Laboratory's forensic services, stating that in the three units that were the subject of inquiry, as well as the rest of the Laboratory, some "very impressive" forensic work was observed. [Part Two at 1; Part Eight (Conclusion).] The FBI remains committed to continuing that work and maintaining the premier criminal investigative Laboratory in the world, while performing its duties with the highest scientific and ethical standards.