SWGDAM Mission Statement
The Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods, known as SWGDAM, serves as a forum to discuss, share, and evaluate forensic biology methods, protocols, training, and research to enhance forensic biology services as well as provide recommendations to the FBI Director on quality assurance standards for forensic DNA analysis.

 


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News & Updates

·

SWGDAM has proposed Addendums to the QAS and QAS Audit Document for Databasing Laboratories performing Rapid-DNA Analysis and its new proposed Guidelines for STR Enhanced Detection Methods available for public comment.  Please go to the SWGDAM Public Comment Page for more information.

· SWGDAM has revised its Interpretation Guidelines for Y-Chromosome STR Testing
· SWGDAM has issued Guidelines for Missing Persons Casework
· SWGDAM has released Recommendations on Familial Searching at the National Level
· SWGDAM has issued a QAS Clarification Document to augment the QAS Documents.
· SWGDAM Regular Meeting
January 12 - 14, 2015
Fredericksburg, VA
   
Past Meetings
· SWGDAM Regular Meeting
July 15 - 17, 2014
Fredericksburg, VA
Preliminary Agenda
   
· SWGDAM Regular Meeting
January 7 - 9, 2014
FBI Academy - Quantico, VA
SWGDAM January 2014 Semi-Annual Report
   
· SWGDAM Regular Meeting
July 16 - 18, 2013
Dumfries, VA
SWGDAM July 2013 Semi-Annual Report
   
· SWGDAM Regular Meeting
January 15 -17, 2013
SWGDAM January 2013 Semi-Annual
Report
   
· SWGDAM Regular Meeting
January 17 - 19, 2012
SWGDAM January 2012 Semi-Annual
Report
   
· SWGDAM Regular Meeting
July 12 - 14, 2011
SWGDAM July 2011 Semi-Annual Report
 

 

About SWGDAM
SWGDAM is currently comprised of dedicated forensic scientists, from international, federal, state and local forensic DNA laboratories as well as guests representing academia and other Federal agencies. These forensic scientists serve as the DNA technical leaders or Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) Administrators for their laboratories, and are able to offer the perspectives of practitioners in the areas of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA technologies. SWGDAM is also fortunate to have invited guests attend each meeting representing academia, other Federal laboratories and international agencies to provide their specific expertise in areas such as mitochondrial DNA, population genetics, statistics, and YSTRs.

The responsibilities of SWGDAM are: (1) to recommend revisions, as necessary, to the Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories and the Quality Assurance Standards for DNA Databasing Laboratories; (2) to serve as a forum to discuss, share, and evaluate forensic biology methods, protocols, training, and research to enhance forensic biology services; and (3) to recommend and conduct research to develop and/or validate forensic biology methods. We hold semi-annual meetings in January and July and our Committees meet more frequently as issues arise.
History of SWGDAM
The predecessor group of SWGDAM, the Technical Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (TWGDAM), held their first meeting in November 1988, as forensic DNA technology was introduced in the United States. This first meeting was hosted by the FBI Laboratory and included 31 scientists representing 16 forensic laboratories in the United States and Canada. This first meeting was designed to bring together those scientists who were engaged in validating this new technology to share protocols and establish guidelines, where appropriate. A subcommittee was formed to work on suggested guidelines for laboratories conducting restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) DNA analysis. These guidelines were published in the April-July 1989 issue of the Crime Laboratory Digest (see Vol.16, No. 2, pages 40-59; see also Crime Laboratory Digest Vol. 18, No. 2, April 1991).

TWGDAM continued to provide a level of direction to the forensic DNA community by issuing guidelines for a DNA proficiency testing program and later for the newer DNA technology of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). See Guidelines for a Proficiency Testing Program for DNA Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Analysis, Crime Laboratory Digest, Vol. 17, No. 3, pages 59-64, (July 1990); Guidelines for a Quality Assurance Program for DNA Analysis, Crime Laboratory Digest, Vol. 18, No. 2, (April 1991). Additional revisions were adopted in 1995; see Guidelines for a Quality Assurance Program for DNA Analysis, Crime Laboratory Digest, Vol. 22, No. 2 (April 1995).

The forensic DNA community followed these guidelines when implementing their DNA programs. As a result, the guidelines became de facto standards and were recognized by courts as minimum requirements for a quality forensic DNA analysis program. See, for example, State v. Schwartz, 447 N.W. 2d 422 (Minn. 1989) (recognizing the TWGDAM Guidelines as standards for the reliability of the RFLP DNA testing).

Federal legislation authorizing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to establish a National DNA Index System also authorized the creation of the Federal DNA Advisory Board. This same legislation recognized the TWGDAM Guidelines and required that they be followed as the national standards until the FBI Director approved quality assurance standards for forensic DNA analysis. See 42 U.S.C. ' 14131. The Federal DNA Advisory Board was responsible for recommending quality assurance standards, and revisions as necessary, to the FBI Director and when their statutory time period expired, they charged SWGDAM with this responsibility.

SWGDAM has conducted a 2014 Participation Survey

SWGDAM Today
SWGDAM is governed by formal bylaws that describe our responsibilities, membership, Executive Board, Committees, Meetings, and Conduct of Business. The Chairman of SWGDAM is selected and serves at the pleasure of the Director of the FBI’s Laboratory Division. SWGDAM members are appointed by the Chairman based upon recommendations from a Nominating Committee and representation is sought from Federal, State and Local forensic DNA laboratories and the various geographic regions within the country. Executive Board members are elected by the SWGDAM membership. The Vice Chairman of SWGDAM is appointed by the Chair. Invited Guests, representing international organizations or laboratories, academia, and accrediting agencies, attend meetings and participate in Committee meetings as well.
The group meets each January and July to address issues of importance to the DNA community (ranging from familial searches, partial matches, recent court cases, audit issues, kits and reagents, etc.). When possible, SWGDAM also holds a public meeting for the DNA community each year to provide updates on the work of the Committees, quality assurance standards, audit documents, etc. For many years, these public meetings were held prior to the International Symposia on Human Identification sponsored by the Promega Corporation. Beginning in 2006, the SWGDAM public meetings have been held in conjunction with the FBI sponsored Annual CODIS Conferences.

SWGDAM has had several standing Committees in the past for the subject areas of CODIS, Missing Persons, MtDNA and Quality Assurance. As issues arise within the DNA community, Committees are formed and assigned specific objectives. Their final work products are shared with the public and DNA community at the public meetings and through published articles.

Please click here for more information on the make-up of SWGDAM today.

SWGDAM and the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standards

One of SWGDAM’s most important responsibilities is the recommendation of revisions to the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standards (QAS) for DNA Analysis. Adherence to these QAS is required by Federal law as a condition of a laboratory’s participation in the National DNA Index System.

The Federal DNA Identification Act provides, in pertinent part, “the index described in subsection (a) shall include only information on DNA identification records and DNA analyses that are-- (1) based on analyses performed by or on behalf of a criminal justice agency in accordance with publicly available standards that satisfy or exceed the guidelines for a quality assurance program for DNA analysis, issued by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under section 210303;” see 42 U.S.C. ' 14132(b)(1).

The SWGDAM Quality Assurance Committee is the principle group tasked with drafting revisions to the original QAS. Since issuance of the original QAS, advancements in science and the introduction of additional technologies (such as mtDNA and Y-STRs) necessitated changes in the original standards. Many of these past revisions have clarified or strengthened existing Standards in the area of education, training and continuing education of the DNA personnel. As new revisions are proposed by SWGDAM they are discussed at SWGDAM public meetings and laboratories performing forensic DNA analysis are given the opportunity to comment. Accrediting agencies and their constituencies are also provided the opportunity to comment on any proposed revisions. Proposed revisions for the QAS have been approved by SWGDAM in 2007, 2008, and 2011 and forwarded to the FBI Director for his consideration. The FBI Director approved the current Forensic and DNA Databasing QAS and issued them with an effective date of September 1, 2011 and they are available at the FBI’s web site at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/html/codis1.htm. To ensure the consistency of application of the QAS, the Committee also revised the FBI QAS Audit Document for use in conducting audits for compliance with these Standards. The Forensic and Databasing QAS Audit Documents approved by SWGDAM and issued by the FBI are also available at the FBI’s web site at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/html/codis1.htm.

Please click here for more information on the history of SWGDAM