Texas Forensic Science Commission
In May 2005, the Texas Legislature created the Texas Forensic Science Commission (“Commission”). Under its enabling legislation, the Commission is required to investigate allegations of professional negligence or professional misconduct that would substantially affect the integrity of the results of a forensic analysis conducted by an accredited laboratory. The Legislature also requires the Commission to develop and implement a reporting system through which accredited laboratories may report professional negligence or misconduct.
In May 2013, the Legislature clarified the scope of the Commission’s jurisdiction by passing SB-1238. Under the new legislation, the Commission may investigate complaints involving forensic disciplines that are not subject to accreditation under Texas law, with the exception of autopsies. The Commission may also affirmatively initiate an investigation of a forensic analysis for educational purposes without receiving a complaint if the Commission determines by majority vote that the investigation would advance the integrity and reliability of forensic science in Texas.
In June 2015, the Legislature again expanded the scope of the Commission’s responsibilities by passing SB-1287. SB-1287 transferred Texas’ Crime Laboratory Accreditation Program oversight from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Texas Forensic Science Commission. In response to the legislation, the Commission established an accreditation process for crime laboratories and other entities conducting forensic analyses for use in criminal proceedings. As part of its accreditation mandate, the Commission is responsible for establishing procedures, policies, and practices to improve the quality of forensic analyses conducted in Texas. Please see our Accreditation page for more information.
SB-1287 also requires the Commission to establish licensing programs for forensic disciplines subject to accreditation in Texas. The Commission may also by rule establish licensing programs for disciplines not subject to accreditation. Forensic analysts in Texas are required to be licensed by January 1, 2019. For more information on the implementation and development of the Commission’s licensing program, and to see a list of forensic disciplines subject to accreditation in Texas, please see our Licensing page.
The Commission has nine members, all appointed by the Governor of Texas. Seven of the members are scientists and two are attorneys (one prosecutor and one defense attorney). The Commission’s presiding officer is designated by the Governor.
The Commission is also actively engaged in various forensic development initiatives, and works collaboratively with stakeholders in the criminal justice system to improve education and training in forensic science and the law.