SWGDRUG Meeting Minutes
San Diego, CA
August 12-14, 2014


Core Committee Members (Present)
Scott R. Oulton, Chair, Drug Enforcement Administration
Linda Jackson, Vice Chair, Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists
Sandra Rodriguez-Cruz, Secretariat, Drug Enforcement Administration
Michael Bovens, European Network of Forensic Science Institutes
Sylvia Burns, Key Forensic Services, LTD, England
Conor Crean, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Garth Glassburg, American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors
Christian Matchett, Southern Association of Forensic Scientists
Richard Paulas, Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists
Eric Person, California State University, Fresno
Catherine Quinn, Victoria Forensic Science Centre, Australia
Pamela Reynolds, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Angeline Yap Tiong Whei, Asian Forensic Sciences Network

Core Committee Members (Not Present)
Suzanne Bell, West Virginia University
Richard Laing, Health Canada
Adriano Maldaner, Iberoamerican Academy of Criminalistics and Forensic Studies
Karen Phinney, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Udo Zerell, Bundeskriminalamt, Germany

Tiffany Ribadeneyra, Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists
Sandra Sachs, California Association of Criminalists
Roger Schneider, Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists
Jason Bordelon, Note Taker, Drug Enforcement Administration


TUESDAY, AUGUST 12th, 2014

Welcome and Opening Remarks

SWGDRUG Chair Scott Oulton opened the meeting by welcoming the committee members.  Attendees introduced themselves.  Mr. Oulton indicated that this meeting was previously believed to be the last SWGDRUG meeting, but that was no longer going to be the case.  Mr. Oulton discussed how most of the current scientific working groups (SWGs) would be dissolving, and how NIST’s Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) is planning to take the lead as a standard setting organization for the forensic sciences.  The OSAC’s responsibility is standard setting; they will not be generating forensic tools for the community.  As such, Mr. Oulton discussed how SWGDRUG will remain primarily to keep up with its other functions, such as the providing monographs, supplemental documents and search libraries for the seized drug community.  Mr. Oulton stated he has been selected as chair for the new Scientific Area Committee for Chemistry/Instrumental Analysis.  He also discussed and was hopeful of the possibility of DEA providing funds for future SWGDRUG meetings, at least one per year.


Mr. Oulton noted changes to the SWGDRUG core committee.  Vice Chair Linda Jackson will be resigning from the organization due to conflicts with other projects, work, and family.  Mr. Oulton thanked her for all of her hard work with SWGDRUG.  He noted that due to Ms. Jackson’s departure, the Vice Chair position would be opening.  Mr. Oulton thanked Secretariat Sandra Rodriguez-Cruz for coordinating the meeting and travel for the attendees.  He also announced that Robert Powers and Scott Vajdos are no longer part of the SWGDRUG core committee, and that three guests (Roger Schneider, Sandra Sachs, and Tiffany Ribadeneyra) have been invited to this meeting.  Their applications to SWGDRUG were received during the spring of 2013 in response to the three core committee vacancies available.

Discussion on Future of SWGDRUG and OSAC

Mr. Bovens questioned how international members and comments would contribute to OSAC.  Mr. Oulton said at this time OSAC is only accepting American candidates for its committees and sub-committees.  However, chairs of each sub-committee may invite up to five guests  per meeting.  These guests could be international attendees, although they will not be serving in an official capacity.  It is SWGDRUG’s opinion that the international contribution is very important.  However, Mr. Oulton noted that NIST’s budget of $3 million to cover 600+ people would likely make funded international participation difficult.  A total of 23 different sub-committees are to be created, each of which could contain up to 20 people.


Dissemination of SWGDRUG Information

Mr. Oulton noted the formation of a Twitter account to be used for increased communication with field participants.  It would be used to notify people of new drug monographs and future SWGDRUG announcements.  Ms. Ribadeneyra asked if Facebook might be a good option, and the committee believed it was not necessary.


Discussion of Pending Votes

Mr. Paulas noted that due to several members being absent, there may not be enough present for quorum.  Mr. Oulton investigated the issue and decided votes should wait until later in the meeting pending the appointment of new members, in which case a quorum would be established.


Update from National Commission on Forensic Sciences – Linda Jackson

Ms. Jackson described the general organization of the National Commission on Forensic Sciences (NCFS).  This is a DOJ and NIST joint commission formed to address forensic policy issues when they relate to law.  The NCFS is an advisory body for the attorney general who can then make policy for federal laboratories.  It is expected that those policies would then trickle down to smaller state and local labs.  All NCFS meetings and materials are made available to the general public.  NCFS is not congressionally mandated and not a government agency.  It is a mix of attorneys, judges, scientists, and victims’ advocates.  NCFS recommendations are only mandatory, if implemented by the Attorney General, at the DOJ level.  Several sub-committees have been formed within NCFS.  In general, NCFS advises the attorney general and reports to him/her, and develops policy.  OSAC is not a federal advisory committee, and reports to NIST.


Update from NIST/OSAC – John Paul Jones (via Adobe Connect)

Mr. Jones discussed the history of NIST and OSAC, future timeline, and applicant statistics.  He described how 21 SWGs have produced more than 250 documents and have had more than 750 participants.  He also noted that NIJ funding for most of SWGs has stopped.  The general plan is to combine previous SWGs into the larger OSAC for greater influence and enforceable standards.  While the NCFS is an advisory body for the attorney general, OSAC purposes include supporting the actual development of forensic science standards, determining each discipline’s needs, and ensuring scientific basis exists.  OSAC is governed by the Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB), under which a total of 5 Scientific Area Committees (SAC) exist.  Each SAC is then composed of 3-6 subcommittees specialized in each area of forensic science. Work products generated by the subcommittees (standards or guidelines) will have to be approved either by the FSSB or by the SAC, standards expected to be mandatory and guidelines to become recommendations.  SACs will set priorities for subcommittee work, and meetings will be open to the public.  SAC sub-committees will be where the bulk of work happens and meetings will not be open to the general public.  Sub-committee members will be selected by their respective SAC.


Several SWGDRUG core committee members asked about international participation and how pre-existing documents would be brought into the OSAC structure.  A discussion also took place about whether international guests would be able to participate in OSAC.

Analogue Sub-Committee Update and Public Comment Discussion – Christian Matchett
Mr. Matchett discussed the document originally drafted in 2012 and later revised in 2013.  Comments were again requested (public comment period) during the early part of 2014.  A total of 3 comments were received that would be addressed in sub-committee break-out.  He noted that the document is intentionally general due to differences in laws in different nations and states.  The document stresses the need for laboratories to have procedures to address controlled substance analogues and class determinations.


ENFSI/Drugs Working Group Update – Michael Bovens

Dr. Bovens discussed the current DWG sub-committee work which included profiling, education and training, quality assurance, and quantitative sampling He also notified the core committee that finalized guidelines and software tools are available via the ENFSI website. 


Mr. Matchett asked if the quantitative sampling guidelines could be adopted in OSAC.  Mr. Oulton speculated it would have a better chance as a guideline than as a requirement.  Regarding the Actual Steering Committee, Mr. Matchett asked if personal certifications were being pushed/pursued in the EU.  Dr. Bovens said around 2/3 of the ENFSI labs are accredited, but individual analysts generally do not have personal certifications.  Ms. Ribadeneyra asked if ENFSI produced proficiency tests were available to outside labs, to which Dr. Bovens replied they are not commercially available.



AFSN Update – Angeline Yap Tiong Whei

Dr. Yap Tiong Whei presented 2013 drug statistics from 9 participating Asian laboratories.  She described the main drugs of abuse in several countries.  NPS (New Psychoactive Substances) use was studied from 2011 to 2013 in several countries.  The biggest increases were seen in Singapore, Korea, and Indonesia.  A spike in 2013 in Indonesia was attributed to usage of the SWGDRUG Mass Spectral library, which allowed identification of previously unknown substances.


Dr. Yap Tiong Whei discussed Singapore in particular and their laws in regards to NPS.  Most NPS are in temporary schedule which leads only to seizure of drugs, not to any punishment.  After temporary scheduling, NPS drugs can become permanently scheduled, and then punishment can accompany seizure.  Since consumption is illegal in Singapore, metabolites of drugs must also be scheduled.  Ms. Yap Tiong Whei also noted that IFSA (International Forensic Strategic Alliance) information can be found through ENFSI.  IFSA has developed minimum requirements for new developing labs.

Discussion of Qualitative Method Validation                  

Mr. Oulton established a sub-committee to take a closer look at SWGDRUG recommendations in reference to qualitative method validation.



SWGDRUG Survey – Sandra Rodriguez-Cruz
Dr. Rodriguez-Cruz covered results of a survey conducted by Dr. Suzanne Bell and her students at West Virginia University in 2013.  Of the 27 questions asked, the response rate decreased as the survey progressed.  The SWGDRUG degree requirement of a natural or physical science degree for analysts was discussed. Members were reluctant to accept degrees in psychology, social science, and public health, so no changes to the requirement were recommended.  Ms. Jackson then showed a similar presentation from 2011 titled “SWGDRUG Feedback Mechanism”.  In the 56 questions, results were similar to the 2013 survey.

New Topics/Open Discussion

The following topics were discussed as possible new areas for SWGDRUG contributions or documents:

·         Uncorrelated techniques Sub-committee discussion - Mr. Oulton asked if this needed to be started at this meeting or if this would be a topic for the controlled substances OSAC sub-committee to address in the future.  After a short discussion it was decided this issue not be discussed during the current meeting.


·         Category A/B/C characterizations – A possible discussion on re-addressing the categories and their inclusion of newer techniques likes DART and high-resolution MS was suggested.  Dr. Person suggested this subject be tied in with the above issue which would fit in better with OSAC future goals.


·         SWGDRUG Libraries – MS and IR – The use of the SWGDRUG libraries by the seized drug community was discussed.  It was re-emphasized that the SWGDRUG MS library contains both verified and unverified material, and as such, should not be used for final identifications.  The disclaimer on the website was created to notify users of this fact.  The current IR library is different, as it is developed by the DEA Special Testing and Research laboratory, and contains only spectra from authenticated reference materials.  This led to a group discussion on how the use of the two libraries could be confused.  Multiple suggestions were discussed, including updating the MS Library disclaimer, creating 2 MS libraries (one verified, one unverified), or to change the IR library to contain unverified materials.  Inclusion of unverified spectra in the IR library would most likely increase its utility, as more compounds could be readily incorporated.  This would provide similar use to both (MS and IR) libraries, thus possibly eliminating confusion to users.  The SWGDRUG drug monographs can always be used as the preferred source for verified spectra.  A note to this effect could be added to entries in the IR and MS libraries to notify users of the availability of verified data within the drug monographs.

Sub-Committee Assignments:
Mr. Oulton named the following sub-committee assignments for individual work during the rest of the meeting:

·         Analogues: Christian Matchett, Conor Crean, Catherine Quinn, Jason Bordelon

·         Editorial: Linda Jackson, Scott Oulton

·         Mission Statement: Eric Person, Rick Paulas

·         Qualitative Method Validation: Michael Bovens, Catherine Quinn, Sylvia Burns, Garth Glassburg, Sandra Sachs

·         Uncertainty: Angeline Yap Tiong Whei, Tiffany Ribadeneyra, Roger Schneider, Pam Reynolds, Sandra Rodriguez-Cruz

Discussion on Mission Statement
Mr. Oulton initiated a discussion on revising the SWGDRUG mission statement as Dr. Person had previously distributed a draft.  Mr. Oulton felt it should be readdressed next year due to the pending OSAC developments.  Several comments were made regarding the mission statement in relation to OSAC.  They included discussing other functions provided by SWGDRUG (training, resources, etc.).

Sub-Committee Break-Out

The core committee members broke out into their respective sub-committees for the remainder of the day.




New Members

After discussion with the current committee members, Mr. Oulton appointed Dr. Sachs, Ms. Ribadeneyra, and Mr. Schneider to the SWGDRUG core committee. Mr. Oulton welcomed each of the new members and established that a quorum was reached.

Analogue Document – Discussion of Responses to Public Comments

The 3 comments received during the last public comment period were discussed in sub-committee, and it was decided that none warranted changes to the document. A document delineating each comment and the SWGDRUG response was presented and will be posted on the SWGDRUG website for approximately one year.  Ms. Quinn suggested language be added in future revisions that discuss what labs should do when analysts opinions differ within the labs.  Dr. Person suggested taking this up in the future.


Dr. Person made a motion to incorporate the Analogue document as part IIID of the SWGDRUG Recommendations, which will be released as version 7.0 pending editorial review.  Motion was tabled to allow for the incorporation of any additional changes to version 7.0 of the recommendations.

Dr. Yap Tiong Whei and Ms. Jackson suggested discussion regarding the SWGDRUG website listing of by-laws, mission statement and names of core committee members.  The question was raised if historical members should be listed differently than current members?

Mr. Matchett amended Dr. Person’s previous motion to incorporate the Analogue document as Part IIID, but to remove the second part of motion to release version 7.0.  The motion seconded by Mr. Paulas and passed unanimously.

In regards to core committee names, it was decided to leave historical members listed in the main document, but to place current members’ names in bold font.

Discussion of Mission Statement and Website Language

Dr. Person had presented suggested changes to group for discussion.  Members debated merits of adding language to website about SWGDRUG’s resources to remain active and the implications given the future OSAC direction.  No vote was necessary for changes to language on website.


Mission statement changes and the addition of a bullet point under “objectives” in the mission statement were proposed.  If amended, these changes would be made in version 7.0 of the main document (SWGDRUG Recommendations) and changes incorporated in the by-laws.

Uncertainty sub-committee update
The sub-committee members started drafting a supplemental document providing examples of uncertainty calculations for cases involving weight extrapolations.  Two different scenarios are being considered, the case where an analyst would test multiple units up to a specific jurisdictional threshold, and the case where the analyst would have to determine the entire weight of a multi-unit seizure.  Mr. Oulton suggested further discussion among the sub-committee members after conclusion of this meeting and requested for the draft to be sent out to the rest of the core committee via e-mail in the near future. It is anticipated that this document will be ready for approval and distribution for public comments during the next SWGDRUG meeting.

Qualitative Method Sub-committee update

Legacy validations were discussed.  The sub-committee is looking towards a practical example of an analytical scheme and what validations would be needed.  There was a discussion of how this would be tied into existing validation documents.  This will be discussed further in sub-committee break-out.


Discussion of Changes to By-Laws and Mission Statement

The following updates to version 7 of the main document were discussed: 

·         Updating the mission statement and objectives

·         Including published ASTM standards based on SWGDRUG recommendations

·         Highlighting current Core Committee members with bold font.


In order to update the mission statement and objectives listed in the SWGDRUG bylaws, Mr. Matchett made a motion to bypass the 30-day review period and accept changes to the bylaws (Sections 1.2 and 1.3).  The motion was seconded by Ms. Jackson.  Mr. Paulas requested an official reading of mission statement be placed into meeting minutes.  The motion passed unanimously.

Mission Statement:

SWGDRUG works to improve the quality of the forensic examinations of seized drugs and to respond to the needs of the forensic community by supporting the development of internationally accepted minimum standards, identifying best practices within the international community, and providing resources to help laboratories meet these standards.


SWGDRUG seeks to achieve this mission through the following objectives:

• specifying requirements for practitioners’ knowledge, skills and abilities,

• promoting professional development,

• providing a means of information exchange within the forensic science community,

• promoting ethical standards of practitioners,

• recommending minimum standards for examinations and reporting,

• providing resources and tools,

• establishing quality assurance requirements,

• considering relevant international standards, and

• seeking international acceptance of SWGDRUG recommendations


Dr. Person made a motion to update the mission statement and objectives in all documents, and post revisions, including the new Section IIID, pending editorial reviews, as version 7.0 of the SWGDRUG Recommendations.  The motion was seconded by Sylvia Burns and passed unanimously.

Sub-Committee Break-Out

The core committee members broke out into their respective sub-committees.



Mr. Oulton notified committee members that updated language had been posted to SWGDRUG website.  Discussion ensued regarding time and place for 2015 SWGDRUG meeting.  It was tentatively planned for June 16th to 18th (subject to change) at a location to be determined.


Uncertainty Sub-committee update

Dr. Yap Tiong Whei discussed the addition of a 3rd scenario to the uncertainty examples for weight extrapolations draft document.  The plan is to keep the document in sub-committee for approximately another month, then release to entire SWGDRUG committee.


Qualitative Method Sub-committee update

The sub-committee discussed their plan to create 2 documents relating to qualitative method validations.  The first will involve legacy methods and have a “Q&A” section with practical examples.  The second will involve practical examples of new validations.  Topics will include how to include new compounds into existing methods, how a generic method is validated for an unknown, when a negative result is valid, what needs to be done with a new instrument, and how to add a new method to an existing instrument.  Protocols for clandestine laboratory samples will also be added.


Meeting Close-out

Mr. Oulton previewed the updated SWGDRUG website to core committee members.  He thanked everybody for their hard work during the week, and welcomed the 3 new members to SWGDRUG.  Ms. Jackson was thanked and given a plaque for her service to SWGDRUG since 1997.  Mr. Oulton concluded the meeting by announcing that Mr. Christian Matchett will now serve as the new SWGDRUG Vice Chair.





Minutes respectfully submitted by Jason A. Bordelon.