About Scientific Working Groups

Established in the early 1990s, 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 SWGs 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.

On February 18, 2009, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report revealed a need to reform the forensic sciences, including an initiative to increase the scientific foundations of forensic evidence. In response to the NAS report, 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. More information about OSAC can be found here.

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 Facial Identification (FI) discipline. FISWG works closely with the OSAC FI Subcommittee to shepherd many FISWG documents through the OSAC process.

Currently, FISWG has four subcommittees focusing on the following:

Glossary Subcommittee is made up of a small number of members from each of the subcommittees to keep the glossary up to date with terminology.

One-to-One (1:1) Subcommittee writes documents related to the comparison of faces to include, but not limited to, methodology, confounding factors, and documentation of results.

Systems and Capture Subcommittee writes documents related to Facial Recognition Systems and Image Capture.

Training Subcommittee writes documents related to the development of training programs for people conducting comparisons.

The Executive Committee is comprised of FISWG leadership, subcommittee chairs, and other key members of the group as defined by the bylaws.

Additional Active Scientific Working Group Websites:

SWGDAM - DNA Analysis

SWGDE - Digital Evidence

SWGDRUG - Analysis of Seized Drugs