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DC Forensic Science Lab Earns Accreditation

The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board has accredited the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) of the District of Columbia's Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) to ISO/IEC 17025.

The FSL provides firearms examination, fingerprint analysis, and forensic biology examinations, including body fluids and DNA. The lab intends to add additional examinations, including materials analysis (fibers, paint, adhesives, and glass) and digital evidence (electronic devices).

"Accreditation assures industry and government decision-makers that the organizations are competent and their results can be relied on," said Bill Hirt of the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.

"This great news comes just after DFS received approval to begin operating the only Biosafety Level 3 laboratory in the national capital region," said District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray. "Director Houck and the staff have made incredible progress since his agency was created on October 1, 2012 - the same day the state-of-the-art consolidated forensic laboratory opened. And this administration ensures that the District government continues to offer world-class services to its citizens, visitors, and businesses."

The lab achieved international accreditation in about eight months. "That's unheard of in this industry," Houck said. "This validates my philosophy on managing: Find and keep quality people, give them resources, and stay out of their way."

The lab staff got to this point through "tenacity, creativity, ingenuity and sheer will, working as a team," according to Jason Kolowski, who heads the FSL. "They have very few colleagues around the world who can say they work in an accredited and independent forensic science laboratory."

The ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation is good for five years with annual external audits and regular inspections in addition to internal reviews. Accreditation of forensic labs is voluntary in most jurisdictions but is mandated in the District and a number of states.