Dan Correa helped inspire and catalyze American innovation in science and technology as a FUSE Executive Fellow (2014-15) in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Since the conclusion of his fellowship, he held advisory roles at the Center for American Entrepreneurship, Stanford University, and the Partnership for Public Service before launching the Day One Project, a platform for crowdsourcing actionable science and technology policy ideas. Recently, he became the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy research and advocacy organization that meets national security challenges with evidence-based, scientifically-driven policy, analysis, and research. FAS is a platform for the scientific and technical community to weigh in on some of the most important, existential issues of the day.
How did your FUSE Fellowship impact you?
It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance. My fellowship was a formative experience in my career and set the trajectory for everything I’ve done since. My current network and the perspectives, mindsets, and approaches that I bring to my work trace back to FUSE. The fellowship reoriented my outlook on how to get things done and how government can be the catalyst for important progress.
Before FUSE, I had worked in a number of policy-related organizations, but I had never served in government. I felt like I had won the lottery when I was placed on such a special team at the White House. We forged a set of approaches for high-impact service that we want others to use. Even today, we still stay in touch and hold retreats together.
Not enough technically skilled and high-performing individuals understand how they can serve their country. Programs like FUSE Corps offer an on-ramp to service and can help you reorient your sense of career success and, more fundamentally, how to make change happen.
What are the big challenges on which you are working now, and how has your FUSE experience prepared you to approach them?
The way things work in the federal government can be very different from academic theory. FAS is focused on how a really good idea for policy change can become as “implementable” as possible. It’s a little like how startup companies need to talk to lots of actual customers to find out if there is a market for their product. We think of policy the same way—where our customers are policymakers.
We started The Day One Project a couple of years ago to help policy entrepreneurs ready their ideas for the policymaking process. We have now had four cohorts of “policy accelerators.” We tap the latent interest among technical experts interested in public service and searching for ways to be involved.
We have also built the Day One Talent Hub as a platform to help the federal government access scientific and technical experts and bring them for tours of service. We play a brokering role, identifying where individuals can have a dramatic impact, finding suitable candidates, and helping them navigate the federal hiring system. FUSE’s model has been a great example of how to bring compelling policy ideas to fruition.
Through the Congressional Science Policy Initiative, FAS has tapped into the crowdsourced expertise of the scientific community to bring more questions and ideas into Congressional hearings. We can also offer technical assistance as legislative offices are writing bills.
There are extraordinary challenges in front of us: emerging from a global pandemic, climate change as a deep and urgent problem, maintaining our economic competitiveness, and more. In each of those cases, my organization has the chance to seed and implement ideas that will help government address some of the most pressing problems of our time. That’s an exciting place to be.
Related work and news:
Day One Project: Doubling the R&D Capacity of the Department of Education
The Hill: Rare bipartisan consensus on innovation must lead to increased NSF support