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

A. As needed, SWGDAM shall recommend revisions 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. As needed, SWGDAM shall recommend and may conduct research to develop, test, and/or validate forensic biology methods.

II. Membership

A. The membership of SWGDAM shall consist of an Executive Board and Regular Members.  The term "SWGDAM Membership" shall be used to describe the Executive Board and Regular Members.  The term “SWGDAM Body” shall be used to describe the SWGDAM Membership together with Invited Guests and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

 

B. The Executive Board shall consist of the SWGDAM Chair, SWGDAM Vice-Chair, an Executive Secretary, and 5 Regular Members.  Either the SWGDAM Chair or the Vice-Chair shall be an employee of the FBI.  All Members of the Executive Board shall have voting privileges with the exception of the Executive Secretary.

1. The SWGDAM Chair shall be appointed by the FBI Director.

2. The SWGDAM Vice-Chair shall be appointed by the SWGDAM Chair.
3. The SWGDAM Executive Secretary shall be appointed by the SWGDAM Chair.

4. Executive Board Regular Member selection

a. The SWGDAM Chair shall nominate 7 Regular Members by election ballot.  The nominations shall not include more than 2 Regular Members from any one agency.

b. The SWGDAM Membership shall select 5 of the nominated individuals via ballot vote.  The SWGDAM Chair shall vote in the event of a tie.

c. The SWGDAM Executive Secretary and 2 Regular Members appointed by the SWGDAM Chair shall count the ballots and report the results to the Chair.  The Executive Secretary shall record the results of the election for the record.

d. Executive Board Members shall be eligible to serve on the Board for two consecutive 3-year terms in accordance with the nomination and election process described in this section.

e. A vacated position on the Executive Board may be filled by the SWGDAM Chair with the appointment of the individual receiving the next highest number of votes on the ballot used to constitute the sitting Board. 

f. If a vacancy occurs on the Executive Board and all of the individuals on the original ballot have been selected to serve on the Executive Board, the Executive Board shall recommend a Regular Member to the SWGDAM Chair to fill the vacated position.  The SWGDAM Chair may appoint that Regular Member to serve on the Executive Board for the remainder of the vacated term.  Completion of a vacated term shall not count toward the two consecutive 3-year term limit of the Regular Member filling that vacancy.

 

C. Based upon recommendations from the SWGDAM Membership Committee, Regular Members shall be appointed by the SWGDAM Chair, in consultation with the SWGDAM Executive Board.

1. The SWGDAM Membership Committee shall consist of the SWGDAM Vice-Chair and 2 Executive Board Members appointed by the Vice-Chair.

2. The Membership Committee shall receive nominations, in a form and manner determined by the SWGDAM Chair, and regularly make reports to the SWGDAM Executive Board.  

3. An individual recommended for membership shall hold a technical position such as biologist, forensic DNA scientist, DNA Technical Leader, Quality Manager, and/or CODIS Administrator, within a National DNA Index System (NDIS) participating forensic DNA laboratory or other federal DNA laboratory approved by the SWGDAM Executive Board.  Any individual recommended for membership shall have participated in a SWGDAM meeting(s) as an Invited Guest.

4. When practicable, recommendations shall take into consideration additional factors such as federal, state, and local forensic DNA laboratory affiliation and geographic location (i.e., Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest, and Western areas of the United States).

5. No agency shall have more than 5 Regular Members at any one time.

6. The FBI shall have no more than 5 Regular Members at any one time.

a. The FBI’s Regular Members will be appointed by the SWGDAM Chair based upon the FBI’s recommendations.

b. FBI scientists may also be recommended via the Membership Committee process described in Section II.C.

7. Regular Members shall have voting privileges for SWGDAM business.

8. The SWGDAM Membership Committee will review memberships scheduled to expire and make recommendations to the SWGDAM Executive Board.  The Membership Committee may consult, as appropriate with Committee, Working Group and Ad Hoc Group chairs in developing recommendations for reappointment.  In consultation with the SWGDAM Executive Board, the SWGDAM Chair shall determine membership reappointments.

 

D. Based upon recommendations from the SWGDAM Membership Committee, guests may be invited (Invited Guests) to participate in SWGDAM at the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, in consultation with the SWGDAM Executive Board.

1. Recommendations for individuals to be considered for participation in SWGDAM as an Invited Guest shall be made to the SWGDAM Chair, SWGDAM Executive Board, or SWGDAM Membership Committee in a form and manner determined by the SWGDAM Chair. 

2.  Upon the recommendation of the SWGDAM Membership Committee, and in consultation with the SWGDAM Executive Board, the SWGDAM Chair shall make the final determination regarding the invitation of guest(s).

3. An Invited Guest may attend and participate in SWGDAM meetings but shall not be considered a SWGDAM Regular Member and is not eligible to participate in the execution of SWGDAM business in accordance with Section VII.

4. An Invited Guest shall have participation and voting privileges with respect to Committee, Working Group or other Ad Hoc Group business in accordance with Section V.

5. The SWGDAM Membership Committee will regularly review the roster of SWGDAM Invited Guests and make recommendations to the SWGDAM Executive Board.  In consultation with the SWGDAM Membership Committee and the SWGDAM Executive Board, the SWGDAM Chair shall determine continued participation of an Invited Guest.

E. Based upon the recommendation of the SWGDAM Membership Committee, the SWGDAM Executive Board, any SWGDAM Committee, Working Group or Ad Hoc Group Chair, the SWGDAM Chair may invite individuals as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to advise or consult SWGDAM, Committees, Working Groups, or other Ad Hoc Groups on specific technical topics as needed. A SME may provide topical expert advice, outside of scheduled SWGDAM or Committee/Working Group/Ad Hoc Group meetings and may not be available to participate in scheduled meetings.

1.  A SME may attend and participate in SWGDAM meetings but shall not be considered a SWGDAM Regular Member or Invited Guest and is not eligible to participate in the execution of SWGDAM, Committee, Working Group, or Ad Hoc Group business in accordance with Section V.

F. The following Membership appointment terms shall apply:

1. The term of the SWGDAM Chair shall be determined by the FBI Director.

2. The terms for the SWGDAM Vice-Chair, SWGDAM Executive Secretary, and Executive Board Members shall be 3 years.

3. The terms for Regular Members shall be 3 years.

4. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair and subject to reappointment, the SWGDAM Vice-Chair, SWGDAM Executive Secretary, and Regular Members may serve an unlimited number of consecutive 3-year terms.

 

G. Should a Regular Member or Invited Guest accumulate unexcused absences from 3 Regular SWGDAM meetings, fail to regularly participate in a Committee, Working Group, or Ad Hoc Group, or engage in any other behavior(s) detrimental to the mission or standing of SWGDAM, the SWGDAM Chair may revoke that individual’s SWGDAM membership or affiliation.

 

III. Executive Board

A. The SWGDAM Chair 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 meeting agendas; presiding at meetings; nominating Executive Board Members; appointing Regular Members; inviting Guests and SMEs; convening Committees, Working Groups or other Ad Hoc Groups; assigning tasks to Regular Members or Committees, Working Groups or other Ad Hoc Groups; acting as the spokesperson for SWGDAM; and forwarding recommendations on to the FBI Director.

 

B. The SWGDAM Vice-Chair shall serve as the SWGDAM Chair and manage all SWGDAM activities in this section in the absence of the SWGDAM Chair.

 

C. The SWGDAM Executive Secretary shall perform duties assigned by the SWGDAM Chair 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 meetings, maintaining records of meetings, and keeping custody of the records and communications to SWGDAM.  The FBI may supply staff to assist the Executive Secretary.

 

D. The SWGDAM Executive Board shall serve as the SWGDAM Chair’s primary advisors and final decision-making authority for all SWGDAM work products.

1. A majority of the total number of SWGDAM Executive Board Members (generally 4) constitutes a quorum.

2. The affirmative vote of a majority of SWGDAM Executive Board Members at which a quorum is present shall be required to approve an action of the Board.

3. A vote by the SWGDAM Executive Board shall be considered the final action on a SWGDAM Committee, Working Group, or other Ad Hoc Group work product.

4. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair and with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, an electronic vote on SWGDAM business may be held.

 

IV. 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.  SWGDAM Regular Members or 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. The SWGDAM Body agrees 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 SWGDAM 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. The SWGDAM Chair shall be responsible for enforcement of this code.

1. All issues related to this code shall be reported to the SWGDAM Chair who shall be responsible for resolution of the issue.

2. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, the SWGDAM Vice-Chair and/or the SWGDAM Executive Board may be consulted during the resolution process.

 

V. Business Process

A. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, a SWGDAM Committee or Working Group may be empaneled and assigned taskings on behalf of SWGDAM.

1. Each Committee or Working Group shall select a Chair and Co-Chair.  Selection of an Invited Guest to serve as Chair of a Committee or Working Group shall be subject to the approval of the SWGDAM Executive Board.

2. Each Committee or Working Group shall establish practices for scheduling, conducting, and recording its activities.

3. SWGDAM Executive Board Members may serve on Committees and Working Groups but may not serve as a Chair or Co-Chair of a Committee or Working Group.

B. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, a Committee of Correspondence or other Ad Hoc Group may be empaneled to advise the SWGDAM Executive Board and/or address a tasking(s) of limited scope or within a compressed timeline.  Such groups shall operate in accordance with the specific taskings of the SWGDAM Chair.

C. All Regular Members and Invited Guests appointed by the SWGDAM Chair to serve on a Committee, Working Group, or other Ad Hoc Group shall have full participation and voting privileges during all Committee/Group business.

 

D. All Committees, Working Groups, and other Ad Hoc Groups shall report regularly to the SWGDAM Chair, SWGDAM Executive Board, and/or SWGDAM Body on their activities.

 

E. A Committee, Working Group, or other Ad Hoc Group shall provide a draft copy of all completed reports to the SWGDAM Executive Board for review and approval for distribution to the SWGDAM Body for technical peer review.

 

F. The SWGDAM Body shall have a minimum of 30 days to respond to a request for comment on a SWGDAM guideline document or proposed changes to the Quality Assurance Standards (QAS).

1. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, and with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, a shorter period for the technical peer review may be assigned for comment on non-guideline or non-QAS SWGDAM work product.

2. A technical peer review is a written or electronic solicitation for the forwarding of comments from the SWGDAM Body and submission of any written or electronic comments by the Body on a Committee, Working Group, or other Ad Hoc Group report or other work product.

3. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, other interested parties such as accrediting bodies and/or other technical working groups may be offered the opportunity to comment during the SWGDAM technical peer review period.

4. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, and with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, a non-guideline/non-QAS SWGDAM work product may be published and/or distributed as appropriate by the SWGDAM Chair without approval of the SWGDAM Membership generally when external circumstances require timeliness or expediency for maximum responsiveness and/or impact.

 

G. After adjudication of the comments received during the technical peer review, a Committee, Working Group, and other Ad Hoc Group shall make a final draft report to the SWGDAM Body.

 

H. A Committee, Working Group, and other Ad Hoc Group shall submit its final draft report to the SWGDAM Executive Board.

1. For a final draft report on a guideline or QAS document, the SWGDAM Executive Board must approve the draft report prior to its posting for public comment.

a. With SWGDAM Executive Board approval, the SWGDAM Chair shall post the final draft report on the SWGDAM website for public comment for a minimum of 30 days.

b. Public comments shall be received in a form and manner determined by the SWGDAM Chair.

c. Comments received during the public comment period shall be submitted to the responsible Committee, Working Group, or other Ad Hoc Group for consideration.

d. The responsible Committee, Working Group or other Ad Hoc Group shall submit its final report to the SWGDAM Executive Board for approval to be presented to the SWGDAM Membership for approval.

2. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, and with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, a non-guideline/non-QAS SWGDAM work product may not be offered for public comment.

3. For a non-guideline/non-QAS final report, the SWGDAM Executive Board shall approve the report prior to its publication, distribution, and/or presentation to the SWGDAM Body.

I. Following approval by the SWGDAM Executive Board, the SWGDAM Chair shall distribute the completed report to the SWGDAM Body and place the topic on the agenda of a Regular SWGDAM meeting for approval.

1. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, approval of a final report by the SWGDAM Membership may be solicited electronically.

2. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, and with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, a non-guideline/non-QAS final report may be published without an approval vote by the SWGDAM Membership.

 

J. Following approval by the SWGDAM Membership, the SWGDAM Chair, with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, will publish the SWGDAM work product on the SWGDAM website and/or distribute as appropriate.

 

K. A Committee, Working Group, or other Ad Hoc Group shall be dissolved by the SWGDAM Chair upon completion of its assigned taskings.

VI. Meetings

A. At the direction of the SWGDAM Chair, SWGDAM shall hold at least 2 Regular meetings each year.

 

B. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, a SWGDAM meeting may be held in-person or virtually in real-time.

 

C. The Chair shall notify the SWGDAM Body of the scheduling of a SWGDAM meeting as far in advance as possible.

 

D. Contingent on funding availability and the absence of logistical constraints, the FBI shall arrange and/or reimburse the travel and lodging expenses for SWGDAM Regular Members, Invited Guests, and SMEs except where prohibited by statute or policy.

 

E. No SWGDAM Regular Member, Invited Guest, SME, or other SWGDAM attendee shall receive 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 Regular Members constitutes a quorum.  At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, Regular Members may participate in SWGDAM meetings virtually and any Member so participating shall be deemed to be present at a meeting for all purposes.

 

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

 

C. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, SWGDAM Executive Board Meetings may be held virtually or in-person.  SWGDAM Executive Board Members may participate in in-person Executive Board meetings virtually and any voting Executive Board Member so participating shall be deemed to be present for all purposes.

 

D. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, and with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, voting on SWGDAM business may be conducted electronically.  The SWGDAM Executive Secretary shall conduct the electronic vote and document compliance as specified in this section.

VIII. Amendment of Bylaws

A. Proposed amendments to the Bylaws shall be received in a form and manner determined by the SWGDAM Chair.

 

B. The SWGDAM Chair shall provide any proposed amendments to the SWGDAM Body at least 30 days prior to any approval vote.

C. A majority of the total number of Regular Members constitutes a quorum.  

D. At the discretion of the SWGDAM Chair, and with the concurrence of the SWGDAM Executive Board, voting may be conducted electronically or in-person.

E. The affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Regular Members at which a quorum is present shall be required to approve amendments to the SWGDAM Bylaws.

 

 

2022 SWGDAM Bylaws APPROVED 09/09/2022

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