Skip to content

Implementing blind proficiency testing in forensic laboratories: Motivation, obstacles, and recommendations

Journal: Forensic Science International: Synergy
Published: 2020
Primary Author: Robin Meija
Secondary Authors: Maria Cuellar, Jeff Salyards
Research Area: Latent Print

Regular proficiency testing of forensic examiners is required at accredited laboratories and widely accepted as an important component of a functioning quality assurance program. Yet, unlike in other testing industries, the majority of forensic laboratories testing programs rely entirely on declared proficiency tests. Some laboratories, primarily federal forensic facilities, have adopted blind proficiency tests, which are also used in the medical and drug testing industries. Blind tests offer advantages. They must resemble actual cases, can test the entire laboratory pipeline, avoid changes in behavior from an examiner knowing they are being tested, and are one of the only methods that can detect misconduct. However, the forensic context present both logistical and cultural obstacles to the implementation of blind proficiency tests. In November 2018, we convened a meeting of directors and quality assurance managers of local and state laboratories to discuss obstacles to the adoption of blind testing and assess successful and potential strategies to overcome them. Here, we compare the situation in forensic science to other testing disciplines, identifying obstacles to the implementation of blind proficiency testing in forensic contexts, and proposing ways to address those issues and increase the ecological validity of proficiency tests at forensic laboratories.

Related Resources

CSAFE 2021 Field Update

CSAFE 2021 Field Update

The 2021 Field Update was held June 14, 2021, and served as the closing to the first year of CSAFE 2.0. CSAFE brought together researchers, forensic science partners and interested…
Mt. Everest—we are going to lose many: a survey of fingerprint examiners’ attitudes towards probabilistic reporting

Mt. Everest—we are going to lose many: a survey of fingerprint examiners’ attitudes towards probabilistic reporting

Over the past decade, with increasing scientific scrutiny on forensic reporting practices, there have been several efforts to introduce statistical thinking and probabilistic reasoning into forensic practice. These efforts have…
IRT for Forensics

IRT for Forensics

This CSAFE webinar was held on April 8, 2021. Presenter: Amanda Luby Assistant Professor of Statistics, Swarthmore College Presentation Description: In this webinar, Amanda Luby explored how Item Response Theory…
Latent print comparison and examiner conclusions: A field analysis of case processing in one crime laboratory

Latent print comparison and examiner conclusions: A field analysis of case processing in one crime laboratory

Scholarship on the latent print comparison process has expanded in recent years, responsive to the call for rigorous research by scholarly groups (e.g., National Academy of Sciences, 2009; President’s Council…