The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a scientific research agency that works to advance measurement science, standards, and technology and that has been working to strengthen forensic science methods for almost a century. In recent years, several scientific advisory bodies have expressed the need for scientific foundation reviews of forensic disciplines and identified NIST as an appropriate agency for conducting them.
The purpose of a scientific foundation review is to identify and document information supporting methods and practices used in forensic analysis and to identify knowledge gaps where they exist. Beginning in fiscal year 2018, Congress appropriated funds for NIST to conduct scientific foundation reviews.
NIST has begun reviews of DNA mixture interpretation, bitemark analysis, digital evidence, and firearms examination. In addition to providing insights into these specific disciplines, the initial reviews serve as pilot studies which will guide future efforts.
This document outlines NIST’s approach to conducting scientific foundation reviews, including data sources used, evaluation criteria, and expected outputs.