This tenth episode of the Forensic Advancement season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series consists of an interview with Dr. Peter Stout, CEO of the Houston Forensic Science Center, who discusses the current state of the Houston Forensic Science Center (HFSC), with attention to how it uses total transparency and blind proficiency testing to improve the reputation and quality of HFSC's work.
In 2003, the New York Times assessed the Houston Police Crime Lab as one of the worst forensic science facilities in the country. Fifteen years later, that reputation has changed, as Dr. Peter Stout and his team have developed the HFSC's program. Given the past adverse publicity for forensic science operations in Houston, Dr. Stout and the HFSC staff have fought against a defensive, protective stance regarding the HFSC's work. Transparency, accessibility, and openness are encouraged and continually monitored. All aspects of HFSC's efficiency, productivity, proficiency, and accuracy are open for public scrutiny and are regularly monitored by management staff to ensure transparency is maintained. The use of blind proficiency testing by HFSC is described, and its effort to decrease turnaround time from an agency's request for evidence analysis to a lab report is discussed.