The NRC (2009) Report Why, and What It Was Meant To Do

Saturday, February 16, 2013
Room 310 (Hynes Convention Center)
Anne-Marie Mazza , The National Academies, Washington, DC
In 2005 Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the state of forensic sciences. The Academies’ Committee on Science, Technology, and Law (CSTL) had been urged for years by a small group of leaders in the forensic sciences community to review various identification sciences to determine if these fields were sufficiently grounded in science to withstand Daubert challenges. Yet the Committee faced resistance and was unable to secure agency or foundation support for such a review. With the Congressional request, an ad hoc committee under CSTL undertook one of the most comprehensive reviews of forensic science and found a serious lack of scientific research, rigor, and standards. The 2009 report was a call for national attention and resources. The report has been hailed as a landmark report, congressional hearings have been held, reform legislation has been proposed, various forensic societies have devoted conferences to the report, judicial education programs have focused on the report, the Supreme Court and Federal Court judges have cited the report, and media outlets of all sorts have devoted numerous pages and program hours to the report and its findings. We summarize the genesis of the study and the recommendations in the report that are designed to strengthen the forensics science system.


1. How the study came about

2. What the study found

3. What the study recommended

4. How the study was received

5. Next steps in improving forensic sciences