In 2009, a report on the state of forensic science by the National Academy of Sciences noted the lack of sound science in the analysis of evidence in criminal cases across the country.
You wouldn't know it from television shows, but even the most common and long-standing forensic techniques such as fingerprinting are considered questionable - and defense attorneys have a field day promoting fear and doubt about science in the best of circumstances.
Most efforts to institute change based on that report fizzled out so last year the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Institute of Standards&Technology (NIST) created a National Commission on Forensic Science. More committee meetings are rarely a solution but the new entity is tasked with going back to the 2009 report and figuring out how to turn its recommendations into action. They have Chemical & Engineering News, the news magazine of the American Chemical Society, giving them publicity.
But will it do any good? With a bloated deficit, Congress is unlikely to give DOJ and NIST more money to fix a problem they never fixed in the first place. Another committee can make recommendations, but it's up to the U.S. attorney general as to whether to make federal labs follow them. And the attorney general can't force state labs to do the same.
But attorneys can imply that the federal government supersedes the states when it comes to science and since the commission's recommendations will be public and available for use by defense attorneys, they are going to be used to undermine forensic science even more.