The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology convened a hearing on September 10, 2019, to examine the state of forensic science. CSAFE leadership and our partners at NIST joined the panel of witnesses to discuss how the Science Committee can help improve forensic science practices in the nation.
In summary, “Raising the Bar: Progress and Future Needs in Forensic Science” highlighted progress since the 2009 NAS report and outlined improvements that must still be made. CSAFE Co-Director Karen Kafadar, NIST and other witnesses provided strategies for how to move the field forward and recommended ways to strengthen existing legislation.
A key point addressed in the hearing was the importance of teaching scientists to be aware of the limitation of their statements and supporting conclusions with data and science.
NIST Program Manager Sue Ballou stated, “We look more towards at NIST what is the scientific basis of a methodology or a procedure and looking at the procedures we have put in place is their foundation established. From that point, we determine to what degree we can give a response to jurors to the officers of the courts as to our findings.”
At CSAFE, our team is working to support NIST in establishing a scientific foundation for forensic practices, and help the community communicate findings with confidence. Co-Director Karen Kafardar emphasized, “The average person still has trouble understanding uncertainty and so statisticians are trying to figure out ways we can communicate not just confidence in our results but the limits of the uncertainty.”