Oliver R. Smoot (USA) has taken office as President of ISO (International Organization for Standardization), for a two-year term up to 31 December 2004. Mr. Smoot succeeds Mario Cortopassi, of Brazil.
ISO, a federation of the national standards institutes of 146 countries, is the world's largest developer of voluntary technical standards.
Following a year as President-elect of ISO, Mr. Smoot shared his perception of the organization: "ISO is clearly focusing all its efforts to ensure that its standards and guides are truly globally relevant, meeting the needs of all, enabling valid tests and supporting valid conformity assessment, thus contributing to the facilitation of world trade as well as to the improvement of the quality of products, services, and the environment."
As the first of several key issues he sees facing ISO, the new President identified the need to involve developing countries more actively in the organization's standardization work.
"There are a lot of technical areas where the interest is probably higher in developing countries than in developed countries, and they don't have the capacity to take them all on," Mr. Smoot said. "We would like to increase the range of different economies and the number of ISO members participating in technical work, to make sure that the ISO standards are actually global standards."
Another key issue for the ISO President is identifying new areas for standardization, such as services, and developing innovative ways of communicating to the market the benefits that ISO standards can bring and the advantages of participating in the organization's work. Mr. Smoot also identified the importance of obtaining the views of industry, consumers and other stakeholders on their future needs. "We will not achieve global relevancy if ISO documents do not meet identified needs, or are untimely," he said.
Oliver R. Smoot brings to the office of ISO President a wealth of experience in standardization, including at the international level. His rich professional background takes in such areas as law, intellectual property and information technology.
Since ISO began operations in 1947, it has published nearly 14 000 International Standards, including the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families for quality and environmental management, which are implemented by more than 540 000 organizations in 160 countries. In addition to these, ISO's standards portfolio includes something to offer for the entire range of business and technology, from standards for traditional activities, such as agriculture and construction, through mechanical engineering, to medical devices, banking cards and toys, to the latest information technology developments.
A citizen of the USA, Mr. Smoot is a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Mr. Smoot has been an active member of the American Bar Association (ABA) and is currently the Chairman of ABA's Technical Standardization Law Committee. He has also been an Advisor to the US Office of Technology Assessment, National Research Council, and Office of Management and Budget.
Mr. Smoot has also held leadership positions in international law, e.g. as a representative of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) to the World Intellectual Property Organization (involved in five projects to develop copyright as a legal protection for computer programmes) and as the person in charge of ITI's privacy and computer security programme during the developing of the US Privacy Commission report and ITI's proprietary rights programmes through the Computer Software Amendment of the US Copyright Act.
In the field of information technology, Mr. Smoot held leadership positions too, including as Chairman of the North American Open Systems Testing and Certification Council and, for 23 years, as Executive Vice-President at ITI during which time he has been exposed to the activities of ISO /IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 Information Technology through his supervision of the ANSI Technical Advisory Group to JTC 1. Since 2000, Mr. Smoot has been Vice-President for External Voluntary Standards Relations at ITI.
Mr. Smoot's leadership in ANSI includes extensive participation in regional and international policy groups, such as the ISO task groups on patent policy and on the development of the Code of good practice for standardization (ISO/IEC Guide 59:1994). Since 1994, Mr. Smoot has been the Chairman of ANSI's Information Infrastructure Standards Panel. From 1988 to 2000, he was a member of the ANSI Board of Directors during which time he served on and chaired many of ANSI's management and policy committees. For the past two years, he has been the Chairman of the Board. He is also a former member of the Executive Committee of the US National Committee to the IEC.