FAQ

FAQ

What are the Accreditation Requirements?
Can I Get a Pre-Accreditation Audit?
Is It Worth the Pain?
How Are Minor Technical Transgressions Handled?
How Does FQS-I Treat a Problem in One Section of a Laboratory?
Does Accreditation of an Individual Section Have to Wait Until All Areas are in Compliance?
Are Results Known When the Team Leaves?
What Are the Proficiency Testing Requirements of the FQS-I Program?
Is There Any Reason To Be Afraid of This New ISO Stuff?
Is ISO Relevant To the Needs of a Forensic Testing Laboratory?

What Are the Accreditation Requirements

"The applicant agency must satisfy all of the Management and Technical Requirements of ISO/IEC17025, as referred to in the FQS-I General Requirements for Accreditation (GRA) and published in ISO/IEC17025. The agency must also satisfy the requirements of the applicable Forensic Requirements for Accreditation. These additional criteria are intended to describe what constitutes acceptable practice in the particular field of accreditation." "Compliance is measured by an on-site assessment of policies, procedures and practices. The FQS-I accreditation cycle is flexible. The recommended duration of accreditation is four years, but a different period may be established depending on the needs of the customer, with a maximum of five years. However, in all cases there must be sufficiently rigorous surveillance to ensure that conformance to standards is maintained.

Can I Get a Pre-Accreditation Audit?

Yes, a laboratory can request a preliminary visit as part of its preparations for accreditation. The visit will consist of a full audit to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 and all other standards that would apply - for example, the National Quality Assurance Standards in the case of U.S Laboratories conducting forensic DNA testing. The team will provide a report indentifying non-conformities (instances where the standards are not being met), concerns (policies, procedure or practices that, while not in conflict with the requirements of the standards, may lead to a detrimental effect on the quality of testing and that therefore requires attention), and comments (examples of good practices). Team members are not permitted to provide advice and the report is solely a factual account of conformity.

Is It Worth the Pain?

There is a myth that accreditation is one of the "no pain, no gain" areas of life for a testing laboratory. However, pain is not a requirement during the accreditation process. FQS-I accreditation program will assist you in creating an effective quality system that focuses on providing a quality service to your clients. The assessment process should be a positive experience at all times, ultimately accomplishing something of which you can be proud. Sure, during the initial review, there may well be several areas of non-conformance. The assessors should have persuasive, objective evidence that you are not in conformance. They should be able to show you where the problem lies and why it is a non-conformance with the standards. The combination of an experienced, well-trained Lead Assessor and a Technical Assessor team with current best practice knowledge in the test area creates the basis for an effective and fair evaluation.

How Are Minor Technical Transgressions Handled?

FQS-I program focuses on the effectiveness of your quality system and the quality of your test results. Non-conformances that do not directly affect the quality of your test results are treated as opportunities for improvement.

How Does FQS-I Treat a Problem in One Section of a Laboratory?

FQS-I treats individual testing areas in each laboratory separately. ISO accreditation programs, run in compliance with national and international standards for the operation of accrediting bodies, require that the laboratory has a detailed scope of accreditation. For example, the assessment would focus on your fire debris testing, without regard for other testing areas that may also be conducted in your facility.

Does Accreditation of an Individual Section Have to Wait Until All Areas are in Compliance?

No. For example, if the document and firearms examination sections are ready, but drug chemistry and latent prints are not, the accreditation can proceed in any or all compliant sections. Any restrictions will be declared in the scope, and other sections can be added as soon as they are ready. This can be a very effective way to pursue accreditation as the non-conforming sections can build on the experience of the ones that have met the accreditation standards.

Are Results Known When the Team Leaves?

Yes. FQS-I's Lead Assessor provides a list of non-conformities, concerns and comments at the close out meeting.

What are the Proficiency Testing Requirements of the FQS-I Program?

Apart from complying with the requirements of any applicable community consensus standard for proficiency testing, such as the requirements of the National QA Standards for DNA Testing, all you have to show is an effective proficiency testing (PT) program as part of the way that you control your quality. You have the options of internal programs and voluntary inter-laboratory collaborative trials as well as purchasing from external sources. The use of standards and certified reference materials are considered along with your PT program.

Is There Any Reason To Be Afraid of This New ISO Stuff?

No reason at all. ISO accreditation has been around for decades and is working effectively in countless testing laboratories in all industrialized countries.

Is ISO Relevant To the Needs of a Forensic Testing Laboratory?

Yes, the program consists of three parts: One part deals with your management system, verifying that you have the systems to do the right thing in the right way. The second part deals with technical matters, addressing quality assurance at the testing, evaluation, and reporting levels. The third area utilizes a set of field specific criteria to illustrate compliance factors in the test area.

FQS-I's program uses field criteria based on the international consensus guide for forensic science published by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) (www.ilac.org), as well as any relevant national QA criteria (such as those published by the various Scientific Working Groups (SWG). FQS-I also provides a range of guidelines to assist with specific clauses in the standard.

 

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