Disaster victim identification (DVI) refers to the component of fatality management of a mass fatality incident that involves the scientific identification of human remains. Based on DVI experiences both here and abroad, forensic practitioners in the U.S. voiced the need to assemble professionals from the medicolegal and forensic community in a collaborative effort to identify and promulgate DVI guidelines and best practices. In response, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) provided funding to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to develop the Scientific Working Group on Disaster Victim Identification (SWGDVI).
The purpose of SWGDVI is to advance the scientific basis for disaster victim identification by assembling professionals from the DVI community, including international participants, in a collaborative effort to exchange ideas regarding scientific analysis methods, protocols, training, and research related to DVI. The SWGDVI will develop, disseminate, and advance consensus guidelines and best practices, studies, and other recommendations and/or findings for DVI; with an emphasis on quality assurance and quality control processes and methods. The SWGDVI shall also encourage and evaluate research and/or innovative technology related to DVI.
To achieve these objectives, the SWGDVI has created Committees, which are populated by U.S. and international professionals from the DVI community to examine targeted issues for the purpose of identifying current best practices and areas that require additional consideration.
The SWGDVI is not, by its chartering instrument, a regulatory body with any formal enforcement authority. The SWGDVI Bylaws were specifically written to state that the SWGDVI promulgates best practices and guidelines, but not standards because of the real or perceived notion that standards are enforceable. The SWGDVI has defined for itself standards, guidelines, and best practices as follows:
Standards are enforceable established rules or minimum requirements.
Guidelines are not enforceable. They are a community norm whose implementation is largely dependent on general acceptance (i.e. consensus) by the DVI community. There can be exceptions, but deviations should be justified.
Best practices are implemented assuming the availability of all resources and support. Best practices are often considered aspirational goals.
SWGDVI strongly encourages feedback regarding its work.. To submit comments, please contact the SWGDVI Chair, or visit the Feedback Forum to post a comment on this website.
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