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Minutes from Inaugural Science Advisory Board Meeting

Friday, June 27, 2014
Group met and was sworn in on April 18, 2014 and elected chairperson

Dr. Max M. Houck, Director, Department of Forensic Sciences, calls the meeting to order at 8:45 am, Friday, April 18, 2014, in the Bennett Room at the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory, located at 401 E Street, SW, Washington, DC.

Darryl G. Gorman, Director of the Mayor's Office of Boards and Commissions, arrived at 8:47 am to swear in the nine members of the Science Advisory Board, all of whom were present to receive the oath of office.

Upon the board being sworn, Dr. Houck referred to the statute, which calls for the Board to nominate a Chairperson. Board member Peter M. Marone nominated Board member Irv Litofsky. The nomination was seconded by Bill Grosshandler. The motion carried unanimously.

Dr. Houck offered an overview of the agency's organizational chart, identifying the structure of the department’s divisions and respective management leadership.

A tour of the Consolidated Forensic laboratory was hosted by Dr. Houck and Dr. Christopher Maguire, Deputy Director.

During the working lunch Dr. Houck discussed the statutory requirement for the review of literature once every three years. He explained the usefulness of the Interpol reference list for the review of literature and encouraged the board’s consideration for use as the source for future reviews of literature. The Board agreed to at least initially review International literature review currently in existence.

Dr. Houck briefly reminded the board of its duties, roles and statutory responsibility including protocols recommendation and advice. The regularity of board meetings was discussed at which time Dr. Houck revisited the District’s current travel and training policy.

Christine Funk, General Counsel, reported on three incidents of testing errors and one report of professional negligence or misconduct. She explained the corrective action taken in response to these events and reassured the Board of notification of future allegations.

The board was reminded by Dr. Houck about the information related to analyst qualifications previously made available to the board via Dropbox. He reported that additional descriptions have been added and, similarly, will be made available to the Board as soon as possible. Transmission of the descriptions timelines is dependent on the personnel authority of the Department of Human Resources.

Dr. Maguire reviewed program standards and reported on recent appointments, division evidence processing, caseloads and the training of new employees. Dr. Houck shared this information depicted in the form of charts and graphs illustrating the timeliness of forensic science divisions, relying on data consistent with FORESIGHT statistics. In addition, Dr. Houck announced that DFS has been in communication with the CDC to use the Public Health Laboratory as a test lab for FORESIGHT approach for PH data.

Dr. Maguire described the department’s efforts relating to sustaining existing programs, improving programs, as well as the elimination of programs.

Sustaining programs: Continuation of Forensic Science Laboratory and Public Health Laboratory accreditation.

Improving programs: Includes streamlining processes; validating a $75 test to determine blood samples at scene, analyzing 5 loci in 75 minutes, to assist in determining which samples may be relevant; transferring quality assurance data to the CODIS platform for quality control, reducing the potential for transcription errors, and enabling GeneMapper to directly upload; digital evidence expansion; integration of Materials Unit; and stabilization of Latent Fingerprint Unit.

Elimination of programs: None planned.

Opportunities: Relationship with stakeholders (DEA, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Metropolitan Police Department, Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department) has improved.

Potential Programs: MOU with Children's National Health System, Washington, DC, to perform new born screening; ongoing conversations with HAHSTA (HIV/Aids, Hepatitis, STD & TB Administration) concerning HIV/HVC testing; Office of the Chief Medical Examiner expressed interest in centralized assessioning.

An overview of grant funded programs was delivered by Dr. Maguire and Dr. Houck.

Board Chair Irv Litofsky offered comments concerning meeting requirements and assembly options. He offered the recommendation that DFS management staff attends an upcoming board meeting.

The Science Advisory Board meeting adjourned at 3:20 pm.