HITA has worked alongside legislators to develop industry standards and continues to educate fellow professionals and the public about the current issues and technologies of human identity testing.
HITA helped shape the 1994 DNA Identification Act.
The DNA Identification Act of 1994 required the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to form a DNA Advisory Board.
The DNA Advisory Board was charged with defining and developing a set of federal quality assurance standards for forensic DNA analysis. This included standards for testing the proficiency of the forensic laboratories and the analysts performing the DNA tests. The Board also had to develop a system for grading the forensic laboratories’ performance on the proficiency tests. Additionally, the Board was responsible for formulating guidelines for the admittance of DNA profiles into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
Before HITA became involved, the DNA Identification Act specified that the DNA Advisory Board should be made up of scientists from the public sector. The Act did not mention scientists from the private sector.
To make the voices of the private laboratories heard and reflected in the efforts of the DNA Advisory Board, HITA lobbied to modify the language of the Act. In the end, the DNA Advisory Board included scientists from state, local, and private forensic laboratories; molecular and population geneticists not associated with forensic laboratories; a representative from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); the chair of the Technical Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (TWGDAM); and a judge.
As a result of HITA’s lobbying efforts, Marsha Eisenberg from LabCorp of America was among the original members of the DNA Advisory Board. Her presence on the Board helped ensure that the interests of private forensic laboratories were represented in the Board’s work.
Through its work, the DNA Advisory Board developed two sets of standards: the Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories and the Quality Assurance Standards for Convicted Offender DNA Databasing Laboratories.
HITA sends a representative to the biannual SWGDAM meetings.
In 1989, the Technical Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (TWGDAM), a group of forensic analysis experts from the public and private sectors, released the Guidelines for a Quality Assurance Program for DNA Analysis. The TWGDAM—since renamed the ScientificWorking Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM)—also teamed up with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop reference materials for forensic laboratories to use in measuring the reliability of their equipment and testing processes.
Early in its history, HITA recognized the importance of the SWGDAM: The guidelines it creates apply to forensic laboratories and to the manufacturers that produce the supplies and equipment used in the laboratories. To stay abreast of the latest developments in the guidelines and to voice its perspective on possible revisions to the guidelines, HITA has striven to send a representative to the biannual SWGDAM meetings. Through these meetings, the original guidelines created by the SWGDAM have been officially revised three times: first in 1991, again in 1995, and most recently in 2004.
In addition to these , HITA has co-sponsored several workshops at the Annual International Symposium on Human Identification. For details on these workshops, see our Events page.