About Chairman Smitherman
Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011. Barry, a fourth generation Texan, has a unique blend of private and public sector experience and has long served the people of Texas with honor and distinction.
After growing up in Highlands, Texas; a working class neighborhood on the east side of Houston, Barry had a distinguished career in business. In 2002, Barry began his career in public service by becoming a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office where he prosecuted a wide variety of criminal cases.
In 2004, Smitherman was appointed to the Public Utility Commission, where in 2007 he became Chairman. At the PUC, Barry managed with a keen eye on efficiency, ending unnecessary expenditures and programs, while managing a staff that crafted and oversaw one of the fastest-growing electric markets in the world. By the time Barry left the PUC, he had cut the budget and cut staffing levels, all while increasing the agency’s performance.
The move from the PUC to the RRC is the next step forward for Barry to exercise his proven, free-market principled leadership within the energy sector. Since his appointment at the Railroad Commission, Barry has instituted an agency-wide review of agency processes and procedures with an eye towards increasing efficiency, promoting transparency, and being more responsive to the needs of Texans. This review has already resulted in a decrease in administrative personnel, an increase in field personnel and inspectors, and the initiation of a complete overhaul of the Commission’s enforcement procedures.
Barry graduated from Texas A&M University receiving a BBA summa cum laude. He received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law. Afterward he received a M.P.A. at Harvard University and was awarded the first Joel Leff Fellowship in Political Economy by the Kennedy School of Government.
Barry currently serves as Texas’ representative on both the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Southern States Energy Board, and as Vice Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Gas Committee. He is on the Visiting Committee of the Bureau of Economic Geology with the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas School of Law Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law, and the Eanes Education Foundation Advisory Board. Barry has previously served on the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee and as an Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at St. Thomas University.
Barry and his wife live in Austin with one of their four wonderful children. Their oldest son graduated from Texas A&M University, one son still attends TAMU and another son attends Princeton University. The Smithermans are active members of Lake Hills Church.