About Scientific Working Groups

Established in the late 1980’s, American and International forensic laboratories and practitioners have collaborated in Scientific Working Groups (SWGs) to improve discipline practices and build consensus standards. In 1998, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Laboratory performed a strategic review of all 20 SWG’s which resulted in the development of administrative and web-based support for the entire SWG effort. Since inception, collectively the SWGs have produced hundreds of standards and guidelines for their disciplines, which have been adopted internationally.

After September 11, 2001, American federal agencies realized there was an absence of fingerprint records for identifying terrorists and an emphasis was placed on identifying faces. Meetings with subject matter experts (SME) in the field of Facial Identification (FI) from American federal law enforcement and intelligence organizations occurred periodically for years.

In 2008, FI SME’s met and decided it was important to form a SWG to help engage state, local, and international experts in the development of standards, guidelines, and best practices.

In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) began the Facial Identification Scientific Working Group (FISWG). FISWG was overseen by the FBI for the first 4 to 5 years. The FISWG mission is to develop consensus standards, guidelines, and best practices for the discipline of image-based comparisons of human facial features, provides recommendations for research development activities, and advances the state of the science in an ethical manner.

In 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) created the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science. The OSAC mission is to facilitate the development and promote the use of high-quality, technically sound standards which define minimum requirements, best practices, standard protocols, and other guidance to help ensure that the results of forensic analysis are reliable and reproducible.

With the inception of the OSAC, most of the SWGs disbanded as the goals and mission of the SWGs and OSAC were similar. Due to the OSAC objective focusing on the forensic system in the U.S., the FISWG membership elected to continue, in order to meet the needs of the broader application of the FI discipline

For over a decade, FISWG has been a leader in gathering and disseminating accurate information regarding the proper application of FI, methodologies, and Facial Recognition technologies. With over 50 different law enforcement (LE) agencies, intelligence agencies, and private industry from across the world, SME’s in the FI-related discipline meet twice annually.