ByLaws of the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM)


The Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM), formerly the Technical Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods, has adopted the following bylaws:


I. Responsibilities of SWGDAM


A. SWGDAM shall recommend revisions, as needed, to the FBI Director for the Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories and the Quality Assurance Standards for DNA Databasing Laboratories.

B. SWGDAM shall serve as a forum to discuss, share, and evaluate forensic biology methods, protocols, training, and research to enhance forensic biology services.

C. When necessary, SWGDAM shall recommend and conduct research to develop and/or validate forensic biology methods.

II. Membership, Terms, and Vacancies

A. The membership of SWGDAM shall consist of an Executive Board and regular members. The term "member" shall be used to describe the Executive Board and regular members.

B. The Executive Board shall consist of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Executive Secretary, and five members. Either the Chairman or the vice-Chairman shall be a representative of the FBI. All members of the Executive Board shall have voting privileges, except the Executive Secretary.

1. The Chairman shall be appointed by the FBI Director.

2. The Vice-Chairman shall be appointed by the Chairman.

3. The Executive Secretary shall be appointed by the Chairman.

4. Executive Board member selection

a. The Chairman will nominate seven regular members to be placed on an election ballot. The nominations will not include more than two FBI regular members.

b. By vote, the membership will select five of the nominated individuals. The Chairman will vote in the event of a tie.

c. The Executive Secretary and a two-member panel appointed by the Chairman will count the ballots and report the results to the Chairman. The Executive Secretary will record the results of the election in the meeting notes.

d. A vacancy in the Executive Board will be filled by selection of the individual receiving the next highest number of votes.  In the event that a vacancy occurs in the Executive Board and all the individuals on the original ballot have been selected to serve on the Executive Board, the Executive Board shall recommend a member to the Chairman to serve on the Executive Board.  The Chairman shall appoint the regular member to serve on the Executive Board for the remainder of that Executive Board member’s term.  Such an Executive Board member shall be eligible to serve on the Executive Board for two additional terms of three years.

e. Executive Board members shall be eligible to serve on the Board for two three year terms in accordance with the nomination and election process described in a. above.

C. Regular members shall be appointed by the Chairman based on the recommendation of a Membership Committee.

1. The Membership Committee shall consist of the Vice-Chairman and two Executive Board members. The Membership Committee shall receive nominations, in a form and manner determined by the Chairman, and make recommendations to the Chairman for the regular member positions.  Individuals recommended for membership shall be DNA Technical Leaders, CODIS Administrators or scientists with expertise in a particular DNA-related subject area. Additionally, an individual recommended for membership shall have participated in SWGDAM meetings as an invited guest. The recommendations shall, to the extent possible, provide representation from federal, state, and local forensic DNA laboratories as well as the geographic regions of the United States (i.e., Northeast, Atlantic, South, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest, and West).

2. Regular members shall be selected from a federal, state, or local forensic DNA laboratory; however, no agency shall have more than six members.

3. The FBI shall have no more than five regular members that include representatives of the following DNA Units: CODIS Unit, DNA Casework Unit, DNA Support Unit and Federal DNA Database Unit.

4. Regular members shall have voting privileges.

D. The Chairman may invite guests to participate in meetings. Invited guests shall not be considered members of SWGDAM and shall have no voting privileges; however, invited guests shall have voting privileges with respect to committee business in accordance with Section V of these bylaws.  Recommendations for invited guests shall be made to the Chairman or Membership Committee in a form and manner determined by the Membership Committee.  As needed, the Membership Committee may make recommendations to the Chairman for guest(s) to participate in meetings.

E. The term of the Chairman will be determined by the FBI Director. The initial term for the Vice-Chairman, Executive Secretary, and Executive Board members shall be three years. Regular members shall be appointed for three-year terms. Subsequent terms of appointment for all members shall be three years.

F. A vacancy may occur as a result of the death of a member, resignation of a member, resignation of a member from the federal, state, or local DNA forensic laboratory that nominated him/her, or completion of a member's term. In the event of a member's absence from three consecutive meetings without good cause, the Chairman may remove that member from SWGDAM. A vacancy shall be filled in the manner prescribed for the initial appointment of that member for the remainder of that member's term. 

III. Executive Board Members' Responsibilities

A. The Chairman shall manage the activities of the Board and perform all duties incident to the office of Chair, including but not limited to, scheduling meetings, preparing the agenda, presiding at meetings, nominating Executive Board members, appointing regular members, appointing committees, inviting guests to meetings, assigning tasks to members or committees, acting as spokesperson for SWGDAM, and forwarding recommendations on to the FBI Director.

B. The Vice-Chairman shall serve as the Chairman and preside over meetings in the absence of the Chairman, with the agenda set by the Chairman.

C. The Executive Secretary shall perform duties assigned by the Chairman or the Executive Board and shall perform all administrative duties incident to the office of Executive Secretary, including but not limited to, preparing summary notes of the meetings, maintaining records of meetings, and keeping custody of the records and communications to SWGDAM. Staff provided by the FBI may assist the Executive Secretary. The Executive Secretary will have no voting privileges.

D. The Executive Board shall review and evaluate all recommendations made by SWGDAM committees and vote on the recommendations. A majority of the total number of members of the Executive Board (four) constitutes a quorum. The affirmative vote of the majority of the members of the Executive Board, at which a quorum is present, shall be required to approve recommendations to be presented to the FBI Director. A vote by the Executive Board shall be considered the final action on a committee's recommendation.  The Executive Board shall, in its discretion, determine when an e-mail vote on SWGDAM business is necessary.

IV. SWGDAM Code of Ethics

A.    SWGDAM is comprised of practitioners experienced in some or all of the following: the methods, techniques, protocols, quality assurance, education, and research in forensic DNA analysis methods.  Members and invited guests represent government agencies and academia; each bound by a professional Code of Ethics to promote and enhance the development of quality forensic DNA analysis methods and protect the integrity of SWGDAM as a deliberative body.

B.    SWGDAM Members and Invited Guests agree to:

1.  Comply with the bylaws of SWGDAM.

2.  Afford all SWGDAM work products and ongoing discussions specific to those work products appropriate confidentiality until such products are released.

3.  Avoid even the appearance of all personal and professional conduct which places SWGDAM in the position of endorsing products or services for an individual’s own financial or personal gain or for the financial or other gain of the individual’s employer.

4.  Disclose to the SWGDAM Chair any potential conflicts of interest, or the appearance of same, that may arise with respect to SWGDAM business.

5.  Provide public statements representing SWGDAM policies or positions only upon approval of the Chair, and if approved, to represent SWGDAM policies or positions accurately.

6.  Report complete and accurate data in connection with SWGDAM-related research.

7.  Report to the SWGDAM Chair any sanctions received from his/her employer in the forensic field or from professional forensic organizations.

8.  Provide a complete and accurate representation of his/her education, training, experience, or area of expertise.

9.  Provide written documentation of agreement to this code of ethics.

C.    Enforcement of Code.  The SWGDAM Chair shall be responsible for enforcement of this code.  All issues related to this code shall be reported to the SWGDAM Chair who shall be responsible for resolution of the issue.  At the Chair’s discretion, members of the SWGDAM Executive Board may be consulted in the resolution process.

V. Committees Empanelled by the Chairman

A. Committee selection

1. The SWGDAM Chairman will select the members of committees. Executive Board members may serve on committees but cannot serve as chairman or cochairman.

2. The committee will select a chairman and cochairman as their first order of business by vote. The SWGDAM Chairman will vote in the event of a tie.  Selection of an invited guest to serve as chairman of a committee shall be subject to the approval of the SWGDAM Executive Board.

B. All members and invited guests appointed by the SWGDAM Chairman to serve on a committee shall have voting privileges during committee meetings with respect to committee business. A majority of the total number of members of the committee constitutes a quorum. The affirmative vote of the majority of the members of a committee, at which a quorum is present, shall be an act of the committee.

C. Committee business

1. The committee will report regularly to the membership on the status of their delegated task(s).

2. The committee, on completion of their task(s), will advise the SWGDAM Chairman.

3. The committee will distribute a draft copy of the committee report to the membership for technical review. The membership will have 30 working days to respond to the committee chairman. A technical review is a written evaluation of the committee's findings and/or report.

4. The committee will make a final report to the SWGDAM membership after evaluating the technical reviews.

5. The committee will submit the final report to the Executive Board.  If the final report is a guidelines or standards document and the Executive Board approves the report for public comment, the Chair will, at a minimum, post the final report on the SWGDAM website for public comment for a minimum of 30 days.  Any comments received during the comment period will be submitted to the committee for consideration.

6. A final report that has been subject to the minimum 30 day comment period or a final report that is not a guidelines or a standards document will be submitted to the Executive Board.  Based on the Executive Board's recommendations, following a successful executive review, the SWGDAM Chairman will either:

a. Distribute the completed report to the membership and place the topic on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled SWGDAM meeting for a majority vote.


b. Accept the report and distribute, publish, or archive, as necessary, without a membership vote.

7. Once it is determined that all issues assigned to the committee by the Chairman have been addressed, the committee shall be dissolved by the SWGDAM Chairman.

VI. Meetings

A. SWGDAM shall meet at least twice a year or as the Chairman directs.

B. All members shall be notified of meetings as far in advance as feasible.

C. The FBI, contingent on funding, shall make travel and lodging arrangements for the members.

D. Executive Board and regular members shall receive no compensation or honoraria in lieu of salary or wages for time spent attending SWGDAM meetings or working on SWGDAM business.

VII. Conduct of Business

A. A majority of the total number of members constitutes a quorum.

B. The affirmative vote of the majority of the members, at which a quorum is present, shall be an act of SWGDAM.

C. At the discretion of the Chairman, members of the Executive Board may participate in Executive Board meetings by means of telephone conference calls or other remote conferencing facilities and any voting Executive Board member so participating shall be deemed to be present at a meeting for all purposes.

D. In its discretion, the Executive Board shall determine if e-mail voting on SWGDAM business is necessary.  The Executive Secretary will conduct the e-mail vote and document compliance with paragraphs A. and B. of this section.

VIII. Amendment of Bylaws

A. Proposed amendments to the bylaws shall be provided to members at least 30 days prior to any adoption vote.  Voting may be conducted electronically.

B. A majority of the total number of members constitutes a quorum.

C. The affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members, at which a quorum is present, shall be required to approve amendments to the bylaws.


Document Version

Revision History

July 2014

The following revisions were unanimously approved by the SWGDAM membership on July 17, 2014:


Section II.C.2. revised to establish a maximum limit of six representatives from one agency.

Section II.C.3. revised to establish a maximum limit of five FBI regular members.

Sections V.C.5. and V.C.6 revised to provide for a public comment period for a minimum of 30 days for Committee guidelines and standards documents.  

Section VIII.A. revised to provide the membership with 30 days notification of an adoption vote and to permit voting on Bylaw amendments electronically.


See SWGDAM Ethical and Conflict of Interest Principles


Revisions approved July 17, 2014.