10.51.05.16

.16 Ethics and Data Integrity Policy — Requirement.

A. A licensee shall:

(1) Establish and maintain a written ethics and data integrity policy to be followed by all forensic laboratory employees, which includes the items set forth in §B of this regulation;

(2) Provide access to the information, training, and resources needed by all forensic laboratory employees to comply with applicable federal and State laws, including ethics laws and regulations and the ethics and data integrity policy required in §A(1) of this regulation;

(3) Provide formal ethics and data integrity training:

(a) As part of new employee orientation; and

(b) On an annual basis for all current employees;

(4) Develop and utilize an employee ethics and data integrity agreement, for each employee to sign annually after training, acknowledging, and certifying that the employee has read, understands, and will follow the forensic laboratory ethics and data integrity policy; and

(5) Provide a working environment in the forensic laboratory that:

(a) Prevents employees from being subject to inappropriate pressures, coercion, intimidation, unethical laboratory dilemmas, or bribery from internal or external sources; and

(b) Promotes and maintains effective bilateral communication through the chain-of-command, regarding concerns, inquiries, and allegations pertaining to:

(i) Suspected or actual unethical conduct;

(ii) Data integrity issues;

(iii) Questionable practices; or

(iv) Questions concerning forensic analysis procedures or results.

B. A licensee shall ensure that a licensee’s ethics and data integrity policy includes at least the following topics, requirements, and procedures:

(1) An employee’s responsibility to report any activity or behavior by any other employee, subcontractor, or vendor that the employee has reason to believe violates applicable laws, rules, and regulations or the forensic laboratory’s ethics and data integrity policy;

(2) The disciplinary action an employee will be subject to if the employee:

(a) Makes or produces a report that the employee knows to be false or misleading;

(b) Is found falsifying, short-cutting, camouflaging, or misrepresenting any information or facts about forensic analysis procedure, result, reports, or data management; or

(c) Otherwise engages in conduct or behavior that violates the:

(i) Forensic laboratory’s ethics and data integrity policy; or

(ii) Established forensic laboratory practices;

(3) Procedures for reporting, handling, and investigating complaints of unethical conduct and violations or suspected violations of the forensic laboratory’s ethics and data integrity policy;

(4) Requiring employees to:

(a) Act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any person;

(b) Exhibit exemplary conduct and use honest efforts in the performance of duties and responsibilities;

(c) Perform a forensic analysis in a manner that:

(i) Is independent of internal and external influences;

(ii) Is objective; and

(iii) Assures that results are accurate, precise, and of known and documented quality; and

(d) Understand the:

(i) Serious implications and consequences of unethical conduct, intent to defraud, or any impropriety in performing forensic analyses; and

(ii) Zero tolerance policy regarding an employee who engages in any form of conduct or behavior that is a violation of the ethics and data integrity policy required in §A of this regulation or any forensic laboratory practice that is not authorized by a licensee’s established procedures; and

(5) Prohibiting an employee from:

(a) Soliciting or accepting any gift of goods or services or other benefit of value from a person or entity:

(i) Seeking action from or doing business with the forensic laboratory; or

(ii) Whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee’s duties and responsibilities;

(b) Holding a financial or personal interest that conflicts with the conscientious and ethical performance of duties and responsibilities;

(c) Engaging in a transaction allowing the improper use of confidential information to further a private interest;

(d) Conducting an action that violates the standards and requirements set forth in this subtitle or the licensee’s ethics and data integrity policy; and

(e) Engaging in outside employment or activities that conflict with the conscientious and ethical performance of duties and responsibilities.