ICMP Forensic Accreditation and Quality Management

The ICMP maintains the world’s largest high throughput DNA identity testing laboratory system dedicated to identifying persons missing from war, violations of human rights and natural or manmade disasters from around the world.  The ICMP DNA laboratory system is housed in three cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where ICMP is currently headquartered.  The system includes two DNA laboratories, one in Sarajevo in the ICMP HQ building and one in Banja Luka, as well as the Identification Coordination Division facility in Tuzla where DNA matching is performed.

The ICMP DNA Laboratory System is internationally accredited to ISO 17025 standards, which are recognized as among the highest standards of accreditation for forensic laboratories.  ICMP’s accreditation has been awarded by the internationally renowned, independent accreditation agency Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (DAkkS), and conforms to additional quality requirements specific to forensic DNA laboratories specified by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).  DAkkS is a signatory to the ILAC international Mutual Recognition Arrangement, which ensures the international recognition and validity of ICMP’s forensic accreditation.  All activities and facilities of the ICMP DNA Laboratory System and DNA Matching are covered by ISO 17025 Accreditation, including ICMP’s primary DNA Laboratory in Sarajevo, and the ICMP Banja Luka DNA Laboratory.  ICMP’s forensic facility in Tuzla, the Identification Coordination Division (ICD), does not itself perform DNA testing, but is involved in sample submission to the laboratories, as well as in computerized DNA matching based on DNA profiles obtained by the laboratories.  In these areas, the Tuzla ICD also falls under the ICMP ISO 17025 accreditation.  ICMP’s two DNA Laboratories, in Sarajevo and Banja Luka, additionally participate in external proficiency testing in DNA profiling.

The ICMP’s accreditation is a rigorous process involving multiple layers of external review by the accreditation agency, spanning ICMP Standard Operating Procedures, forensic validation studies, formal staff training program, institutional management structure, and importantly, the overarching ICMP Quality Management System upon which our accreditation is based.  Included in the accreditation agency’s oversight are annual audits of ICMP ICD and DNA Laboratory facilities where the physical components of the facilities are evaluated, in addition to technical audits of staff during the conduct of DNA testing according to validated standard operating procedures.

The ICMP’s Quality Management System is formally constituted to stand as a commitment to continued self-monitoring, improvement, and integration into the rapidly developing state-of-the-art of applicable forensic DNA science.  This involves a comprehensive training and competency assessment program for staff that is audited under ICMP’s accreditation.  It also requires that ICMP forensic science be recognized by and integrated in the larger forensic science field. To this end, ICMP scientists regularly participate in international and regional forensic conferences, where ICMP scientific methods and results are presented.  The ICMP provides reports twice yearly at the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) DNA Working Group meetings.  The ICMP has developed particularly advanced methods for DNA testing from degraded human remains, and has published these methods in peer reviewed scientific literature.  The ICMP has conducted extended training and best practices workshops in DNA identification methods sponsored by both ENFSI and the International Society for Forensic Genetics.  The ICMP’s Director of Forensic Science is a Permanent Board Member of the Scientific Working Group on Disaster Victim Identification (www.swgdvi.org), a group of 30 international experts which meets six times a year to establish guidelines and best practices in identification methods and operations.

The ICMP’s Quality Management System benefits greatly from regular meetings of an external advisory Steering Committee on Forensic Science Programs, a group of internationally recognized experts who are given in depth knowledge of ICMP’s forensic facilities and practices, and provide an invaluable resource of external consultation and technical advice.  ICMP’s DNA testing methods are regularly shared with visiting forensic scientists on exchange visits, and ICMP hosts trainees from many nations and institutions on a regular basis.