Making A Difference Award (2011) — Oliver “Ollie” Smoot, Jr.

Ollie has been at the forefront of ensuring appropriate standards of use and conduct in computing for over four decades.  He has achieved high honor for his work in Information Technology standardization, and is a valued and respected senior colleague in computing policy efforts.

Mr. Smoot is widely known for his humorous first foray into standards when his fraternity brothers at MIT used him as a standard of measure for the Cambridge Harvard Bridge (see Wikipedia for the story). A plaque was added to the bridge in 2008 recognizing this event’s 50th anniversary; the marks are repainted every year by Lambda Chi pledges. This event presaged Ollie’s long and distinguished career in setting standards for the good of the community.

Ollie was the executive vice president of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) for 23 years. During this tenure he managed all of ITI’s internal activities including the association’s technical regulatory activities and ITI’s staff for the voluntary standards activities of its sponsors: the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) and the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO/IEC JTC 1, the Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information Technology Standards of the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission.  This work was focused on the setting of appropriate information technology standards for companies, governments, and the general public. From 2000-2005 Mr. Smoot served as vice-president for external voluntary standards relations of ITI, a post to which he was appointed to support ITI’s activities in voluntary standards domestically and internationally.

In 2003-2004 Mr. Smoot was elected for a two-year term as President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a worldwide federation of national standards bodies with representatives from over 150 countries. He also served as chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Board of Directors in 2001 and 2002, and past chairman from 2003- 2005. Before being elected as chairman of the ANSI Board, Mr. Smoot served in numerous ANSI leadership posts, including chair of ANSI’s Finance Committee, Organizational Member Council, and Patent Group.

An active member of the American Bar Association for many years, Mr. Smoot served as chairman of the Section on Science and Technology Law and most recently as chairman of its Technical Standardization Law Committee. He has also served in numerous positions with the Computer Law Association (now the International Technology Law Association), culminating as President.

In addition to these various posts, Ollie has been an active, and highly influential, member of the ACM’s US Public Policy Committee and Council for most of its existence.  He currently serves on the Executive Committee of that group, having been elected by the overall membership.   In this role he has been a major guiding influence on issues of standards, policy, and related issues.  His experience both as a technologist and in as a successful leader in seeking agreement in contentious situations has enabled him to provide extraordinarily valuable advice and leadership to USACM for over a decade.

Ollie is currently retired, but continues to be an enthusiastic volunteer with USACM and some charitable causes.

Looking back over his career, Ollie has held two of the most important and distinguished positions in the field of standards: chairman of ANSI and President of ISO.  He has been recognized by his peers as a thought leader and statesman with election to those positions, and as President of the Computer Law Association.  Throughout his career, Ollie has been in positions that serve to inspire the public trust, make systems more reliable (especially computing systems, one of his principal areas of focus), and that seek to ensure cooperation by a number of competing stakeholders.   He has done so with remarkable poise, thoughtfulness and diplomacy, and and has accumulated the respect of a worldwide community.  He has continued to leverage that experience with his service to ACM and USACM.

Viewing his career as a whole, Oliver Smoot has dedicated his life to the advancement of responsible technology, the processes of consensus and agreement, and the support of sound design in Information (Computing) Technology.   He has demonstrated great concern with the appropriate and fair application of technology.   He has been generous with his time and expertise in service to ACM and the broader community, even in retirement.

For all of the above reasons, Oliver “Ollie” Smoot, Jr. is highly deserving of the ACM SIGCAS Making a Difference Award.

This award is also unanimously endorsed by the other members of the Council of the USACM.

Text of the plaque:
For his work in promoting standards and long public service
ITI Executive VP 1977-2000
ISO President 2003-2004
ANSI Chairman 2001-2002
ABA Science & Technology Law Section Chair 1989-1990
Computer Law Association President 1991-1992
USACM Member 1994-
USACM Executive Council 2010-