The PSE is a completely confidential peer review that helps assess the quality of all aspects of your animal research program, including animal husbandry, veterinary care, institutional policies, and the facilities where animals are housed and used.
Because good science demands quality animal care, the evaluation will not only promote the well-being of laboratory animals, it will help validate the results of research using animals. It can also serve as the first step toward achieving AAALAC Accreditation, a distinction earned by hundreds of institutions that have achieved excellence in animal care and use.
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The decision to offer assessment services (in addition to the accreditation program) was prompted by a number of requests from non-accredited institutions for a "pre AAALAC" site visit. These institutions, particularly those outside of the United States, are typically less familiar with the accreditation process and want to find out how their programs compare to AAALAC standards—before they participate in the formal accreditation program. AAALAC is pleased to accommodate these requests through its "Program Status Evaluation" (PSE) service.
The objective of the PSE service is twofold. First, it's meant to assist institutions in determining if their animal care and use programs meet AAALAC standards by identifying weaknesses and suggesting ways to improve or correct them. Second, it's meant to familiarize institutions with the AAALAC accreditation process and encourage them to participate.
The PSE service is available to companies, universities, hospitals, and other research facilities around the world who have never participated in AAALAC's accreditation program. More information is available through the AAALAC International office by calling 301.696.9626 in the United States, 34 948 100026 in Europe, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the application form and Program Description are submitted and reviewed by the AAALAC office, an on-site evaluation is scheduled. Evaluation teams are led by an AAALAC senior director, and also include former members of AAALAC's Council on Accreditation—individuals who are expert in the fields of veterinary medicine, laboratory animal science or animal research, and are committed to humane animal care and use in science.
The on-site evaluation team conducts a comprehensive peer review and provides specific guidance on how to improve deficient program areas. It includes a facility walk-through, and meetings with animal care and research staff, representatives from oversight committees, and the institutional official. Recommendations are provided, in writing, after the visit.
Although entirely separate from AAALAC's traditional accreditation program, a PSE is similar in procedure. To participate, request an application package from the AAALAC office. The application process includes developing a comprehensive "Program Description" of your institution's entire animal care and use operation. This involves an intensive self-assessment which identifies strengths and weaknesses, and raises internal awareness of issues surrounding animal well-being.
A PSE determines where your program stands in terms of meeting AAALAC International's Three Primary Standards. These standards include the principles outlined in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide, NRC 2011); the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (Ag Guide, FASS 2010); and the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals Used for Experimental and Other Scientific Purposes, Council of Europe (ETS 123); along with other broadly adapted reference resources. The evaluation also helps your institution gain a better understanding of the accreditation process before you officially apply.
It's important to note that participating in a PSE does not guarantee accreditation following any future accreditation site visit. But it will give you a sound understanding of the AAALAC peer-review process and what an accreditation site visit team expects. It will also identify areas that future site visit teams and the Council on Accreditation are likely to note as needing improvement prior to accreditation.
After the site visit, you will receive a written report from the evaluation team. The report will identify areas that need improvement in order to meet AAALAC standards, and other modifications to consider in order to further improve your animal care and use program. It will also suggest possible strategies for improving any deficiencies. The report will be reviewed by four additional former members of the Council on Accreditation. This will ensure you receive pertinent information and valuable suggestions from a variety of experts.
The contents of your evaluation report are confidential and will not be shared with the full Council on Accreditation. Your institution, however, may share the report with anyone it chooses, including the Council.
Fees for the PSE service will be negotiated in advance on an individual basis. They will be based on the costs involved in conducting the evaluation visit and administrative expenses.