Congressional Science Policy Initiative

Congressional Science Policy Initiative

Science. Policy. Service. Progress.

The Congressional Science Policy Initiative (CSPI) is a nonpartisan effort to facilitate the engagement of scientists, engineers, technologists, and other experts with the US Legislative Branch to help produce evidence-based public policy.

If you have expertise in a data-driven discipline, join hundreds of specialists who are already taking action to provide critical information to Congress as part of the CSPI community.

How the CSPI community engages with lawmakers and contributes to evidence-based public policy

Enriching Congressional hearings with science

Senate and House Committee hearings are forums where Members of Congress question witnesses, learn about science and technology, and develop policy ideas.

The CSPI team tracks Legislative Branch activity, and when key hearings are announced, the team solicits the CSPI community for questions and ideas that Members of Congress could raise during the hearing. This data-driven information is then communicated to Congress for use in the hearings, promoting a rich discussion of the issues.

Technical assistance on pieces of legislation

When Congressional offices or Committees are developing legislation and invite CSPI to provide feedback, we crowdsource evidence-based technical assistance from the CSPI community and communicate the feedback to Congress.

The incorporation of data-driven solutions into Legislative Branch bills strengthens US public policy.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Rapid response to crises such as COVID-19

CSPI is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on engaging with coronavirus-related hearings, convening infectious disease experts to brief lawmakers, countering misinformation, answering questions from and curating a knowledge-base for policymakers and the public, and executing public service announcement campaigns.

CSPI also provides expertise to the press to further communicate accurate information to both policymakers and the public.

Councils of scientists and engineers for Congress

Members of Congress and their staffs are generalists, not specialists, and Legislative Branch science and technology resources are limited. So CSPI is organizing councils of experts to advise Senators and Representatives on science and technology.

With our impromptu matchmaking of specialists with policymakers and COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force as proofs-of-principle, we plan to expand this program so that Members are equipped with councils made up of experts from their home states.

Snapshot of CSPI Community Impacts

Researchers in the CSPI community with expertise in monoclonal antibody treatments briefed Representative Bill Foster on their potential for countering COVID-19, providing Congress with a realistic evaluation of the status and needs of the biologics’ development and manufacturing.

CSPI was invited to provide technical assistance on H.R. 4373 – the Engineering Biology Research and Development Act of 2019 – and the feedback contributed by experts in the CSPI community helped the bipartisan bill be passed unanimously by the House of Representatives.

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden shared the assessment of a scientist in the CSPI community during his opening remarks in a hearing, demonstrating the high value of foreign-born researchers and international collaborations to the US research enterprise to Members of Congress.

A collaboration between CSPI, the National Science Policy Network, GovLab, and Accenture, Ask a Scientist has mobilized hundreds of researchers to provide evidence-based responses to thousands of the public’s questions about COVID-19, as well as serving the populations of New Jersey and Alabama.

As a case-study featured by GovLab, CSPI serves as a model enabling other action-oriented crowdsourcing efforts.

The Congressional Science Policy Initiative Team

Ali Nouri, Project Director

Ali Nouri, PhD

CSPI Lead & FAS President

Former Senate Legislative Director

Virologist & molecular biologist


fisher 2 cspi shot

Michael A. Fisher, PhD

CSPI Co-Lead & FAS Senior Fellow

Former campaign Field Director

Synthetic biologist & protein engineer



Lindsay Milliken

CSPI Teammate & FAS Research Assistant

Former government relations staffer

Political science & physics



Kathryn Kohn, MA

CSPI Teammate & FAS Comms Manager

Former campaign Comms Director

Political theory & communications


Selected CSPI Team Comments to the Press

“We tend to forget that there is actually more virus out there today than there was when we (Americans) went into lockdown. We have to remember that it’s a more dangerous world today than it was in mid-March.”

Ali Nouri talking with CNN in June

“Without Republican support, it would be tough to see how it gets brought up in the Senate, because it becomes really difficult for any one individual from the other party to sign onto the bill if it looks like it’s partisan.”

Mike Fisher speaking about the Scientific Integrity Act with Undark

“It’s hard to imagine how a system that, according to the company’s website, is ‘added to existing air duct paths,’ would stop person-to-person spread.”

Mike Fisher speaking with the Copper Courier about an air purifier touted by some to protect people from COVID-19

“Generally speaking, there aren’t too many scientists who have been involved from the get-go with these decisions. To the extent that he has these people around him, he should keep them and he should listen to them.”

Ali Nouri discussing President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force with the Boston Globe

“You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you are exposing yourself, for minutes or hours, to people who may potentially be breathing out virus.”

Ali Nouri telling the Associated Press why people should avoid congregating

“A lot of what we’re seeing is the US government potentially re-evaluating the nature of fundamental research.”

Mike Fisher talking with Times Higher Education about steps the federal government is taking to address foreign interference in research

Partners of the Congressional Science Policy Initiative

Contact the Congressional Science Policy Initiative at [email protected].