Asked Questions about the
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
Who was Malcolm
Malcolm Baldrige was Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until his death in a rodeo accident in July 1987. Baldrige was a proponent of quality management as a key to this country’s
prosperity and long-term strength. He took a personal interest
in the quality improvement act that was eventually named after
him and helped draft one of the early versions. In recognition
of his contributions, Congress named the award in his honor.
What is the
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?
The Baldrige Award is given by the President of the United States
and service, small and large—and to education, health
care and nonprofit organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding
in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market
focus; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; human resource
focus; process management; and results.
the award program in 1987 to recognize U.S. organizations for their
achievements in quality and performance and to raise awareness about
the importance of quality and performance excellence as a competitive
edge. The award is not given for specific products or services.
Three awards may be given annually in each of these categories:
manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care and nonprofit.
While the Baldrige
Award and the Baldrige recipients are the very visible centerpiece
of the U.S. quality movement,
quality program has evolved around the award and its criteria.
A report, Building on Baldrige: American Quality for the
21st Century, by the private Council on Competitiveness, said, “More
than any other program, the Baldrige Quality Award is responsible
making quality a national priority and disseminating best practices
across the United States.”
The U.S. Commerce
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages
the Baldrige National Quality Program in close cooperation with
the private sector.
Why was the
In the early and mid-1980s, many industry and government leaders
saw that a renewed emphasis on quality was no longer an option
for American companies but a necessity for doing business in an
ever expanding, and more demanding, competitive world market. But
many American businesses either did not believe quality mattered
for them or did not know where to begin. The Baldrige Award was
envisioned as a standard of excellence that would help U.S. organizations
achieve world-class quality.
How is the
Baldrige Award achieving its goals?
criteria for the Baldrige Award have played a major role in achieving
the goals established by Congress. They now are accepted widely,
not only in the United States but also around the world,
as the standard for performance excellence. The criteria are designed
to help organizations enhance their competitiveness by focusing
on two goals: delivering ever improving value to customers and
improving overall organizational performance.
program has proven to be a remarkably successful government and
private-sector team effort. The annual government investment
of about $7 million is leveraged by a contribution of over $100
million from private-sector and state and local organizations,
including $10 million raised by private industry to help launch
the program and the time and efforts of hundreds of largely private-sector
nature of this joint government/private-sector team is perhaps
best captured by the award’s Board of Examiners. Each year,
more than 300 experts from industry, educational institutions,
governments at all levels,
and non-profit organizations volunteer many hours reviewing applications
for the award, conducting site visits, and providing each applicant
with an extensive feedback report citing strengths and opportunities
to improve. In addition, board members have given thousands of
presentations on quality management, performance improvement,
and the Baldrige Award.
Award winners also have taken seriously their charge to be quality
advocates. Their efforts
to educate and inform
other companies and organizations on the benefits of using
Award framework and criteria have far exceeded expectations.
To date, the recipients have given tens of thousands of presentations
reaching thousands of organizations.
the Baldrige criteria?
The Baldrige performance excellence criteria are a framework that
any organization can use to improve overall performance. Seven categories
make up the award criteria:
how senior executives guide the organization and how the organization
addresses its responsibilities to the public and practices good
planningExamines how the organization sets strategic directions
and how it determines key action plans.
and market focusExamines how the organization determines
requirements and expectations of customers and markets; builds relationships
with customers; and acquires, satisfies, and retains customers.
analysis, and knowledge managementExamines the management,
effective use, analysis, and improvement of data and information
to support key organization processes and the organization’s
performance management system.
how the organization enables its workforce to develop its full
potential and how the workforce is aligned with the organization’s
aspects of how key production/delivery and support processes are
designed, managed, and improved.
ResultsExamines the organization’s performance and
improvement in its key business areas: customer satisfaction, financial
and marketplace performance, human resources, supplier and partner
performance, operational performance, and governance and social
responsibility. The category also examines how the organization
performs relative to competitors.
are used by thousands of organizations of all kinds for self-assessment
and training and as a tool to develop performance and business processes.
Several million copies have been distributed since the first edition
in 1988, and heavy reproduction and electronic access multiply that
number many times.
For many organizations,
using the criteria results in better employee relations, higher
productivity, greater customer satisfaction, increased market share,
and improved profitability. According to a report by the Conference
Board, a business membership organization, “A majority of
large U.S. firms have used the criteria of the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award for self-improvement, and the evidence suggests
a long-term link between use of the Baldrige criteria and improved
have received the award?
- 2007—PRO-TEC Coating Co., Mercy Health Systems, Sharp HealthCare, City of Coral Springs, and U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering (ARDEC)
- 2006—Premier, Inc. MESA Products Inc., and North Mississippi Medical Center
- 2005—Sunny Fresh
Foods Inc., DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations,
Park Place Lexus,
Jenks Public Schools, Richland College, and Bronson
Bama Companies, Texas Nameplate Company Inc., Kenneth W. Monfort
College of Business, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton
Inc., Boeing Aerospace Support, Caterpillar Financial Services
Corp., Stoner Inc., Community Consolidated School District 15,
Baptist Hospital Inc., and Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas
Inc. Commercial, Government and Industrial Solutions Sector, Branch
Smith Printing Division, and SSM Health Care
American Checks Inc., Pals Sudden Service, Chugach
School District, Pearl River School District, and University of
Corp.-Spicer Driveshaft Division, KARLEE Company Inc., Operations
Management International Inc., and Los Alamos National Bank
Inc.-Region Americas, BI, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. L.L.C.,
and Sunny Fresh Foods
Airlift and Tanker Programs, Solar Turbines Inc., and Texas Nameplate
Dental Products Division, Solectron Corp., Merrill Lynch Credit
Corp., and Xerox Business Services
Laboratories, Dana Commercial Credit Corp., Custom Research Inc.,
and Trident Precision Manufacturing Inc.
World Industries Building Products Operation and Corning Telecommunications
Consumer Communications Services, GTE Directories Corp., and Wainwright
Chemical Co. and Ames Rubber Corp.
Network Systems Group/ Transmission Systems Business Unit, Texas
Instruments Inc. Defense Systems & Electronics Group, AT&T
Universal Card Services, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., and Granite
Corp., Zytec Corp., and Marlow Industries
Motor Car Division, IBM Rochester, Federal Express Corp., and
Wallace Co. Inc.
& Co. and Xerox Corp. Business Products and Systems
Inc., Commercial Nuclear Fuel Division of Westinghouse Electric
Corp., and Globe Metallurgical Inc.
How are recipients
Organizations that are headquartered in the United States may apply
for the award. Applications for the award are evaluated by an independent
Board of Examiners composed of primarily private-sector experts
in quality and business. Examiners look for achievements and improvements
in all seven categories. Organizations that pass an initial screening
are visited by teams of examiners to verify information in the application
and to clarify questions that come up during the review. Each applicant
receives a written summary of strengths and areas for improvement
in each area addressed by the criteria.
application and review process for the Baldrige Award is the best,
most cost-effective and comprehensive business health audit you
can get,” says Arnold Weimerskirch, former chair of the Baldrige
Award panel of judges and vice president of quality, Honeywell,
U.S. organizations receive the award?
Any organization headquartered in the United States or its territories
may apply for the award, including U.S. subunits of foreign companies.
Do the award
criteria take into account an organizations financial performance?
Yes. The criteria include many factors that contribute to financial
performance, including business decisions and strategies that lead
to better market performance, gains in market share, and customer
retention and satisfaction. Organizations are urged to use financial
information, including profit trends, in analyzing and reporting
on improved overall performance and to look for the connection between
award amount to a product or service endorsement for the award recipients?
No. The award is given because an organization has shown it has
an outstanding system for managing its products, services, human
resources, and customer relationships. As part of the evaluation,
an organization is asked to describe its system for assuring the
quality of its goods and services. It also must supply information
on quality improvement and customer satisfaction efforts and results.
That does not mean that a recipient’s products or services
Why are the
Baldrige Award recipients asked to share their successful strategies?
One of the main purposes of the award is to pass on information
about the recipient’s performance excellence strategies that
other organizations can tailor for their own needs. Representatives
from the award recipients willingly have shared their organizations’
performance strategies and methods with thousands.
To what extent
are they asked to share their strategies?
The managers of each recipient must decide how much time and effort
to devote to activities such as speaking engagements and tours of
facilities. The requirements of the award program are minimal. Recipients
are asked to participate in the award’s annual conference
and several co-sponsored regional conferences, to provide basic
materials to those who request it on their organization’s
performance strategies and methods, and to answer news media inquiries.
and publicity diminish the image and prestige of the award?
The law establishing the award states that an award recipient may
publicize its receipt of such award and use the award in its advertising.
Promoting public and business awareness of quality improvement is
one of the prime goals of the program, and advertising is one way
to meet this goal. Guidelines help organizations assure their advertising
is appropriate in representing their Baldrige Award recognition.
If this is
a federal government program, why are organizations charged a fee
Federal funding for this program is about $7 million annually and
is used by NIST to manage the program. The application fees are
charged to cover expenses associated with distribution and review
of applications and development of feedback reports. The application
and review process is considered to be a very cost-effective and
comprehensive business health audit. For an application fee ranging
from $5,000 for large organizations to $500 for non-profit education
institutions, organizations receive at least 300 hours of review
by a minimum of eight business and quality experts. Site-visited
organizations receive over 1,000 hours of in-depth review. Every
applicant receives an extensive feedback report highlighting strengths
and areas to improve. An article in the Journal for Quality and
Participation said, “The Baldrige feedback report is arguably
the best bargain in consulting in America.”
May an organization
hire a consultant to help prepare answers for the Baldrige application?
Applicants for the award are asked to supply facts and data to substantiate
their claims concerning their management practices. Consultants,
including members of the Board of Examiners, may provide services
on performance management issues as well as the Baldrige Award process.
However, since there are no secret answers or even right or wrong
answers to the Baldrige application, the award cannot be received
by hiring someone to fill in the blanks.
must show through facts and data that it has a world-class management
system in place and that it is continually looking for ways to improve.
As a final check
before recommending recipients, members of the Board of Examiners
visit the more outstanding candidates for the award. During these
site visits, examiners interview employees and review pertinent
records and data. The objective is to verify the information provided
in the application and to answer questions raised during the board’s
review. An organization that hired someone to fill out its application
would never make it through this rigorous review if its performance
management system was not supported by facts and data.
Is it a conflict
of interest for members of the Board of Examiners to work as consultants?
No. Members of the Board of Examiners are experts in evaluating
performance management systems. They are in demand as speakers,
as information resources, and as consultants. These activities serve
as a way to make more people aware of performance improvement techniques
and the Baldrige Award.
the examiners and judges on the board review applications for the
award and are involved in recommending award recipients, precautions
are taken to prevent a conflict of interest or even the appearance
of conflict. Rigorous rules are followed at every stage of the review.
this means all members of the board must abide by a code of ethics
requiring, among other things, that they disclose all business affiliations
that might create a conflict. In such cases, they cannot review
an application, comment on it, or make any judgments that could
affect it. It is a violation of the code for board members even
to ask for information on applications other than those to which
they are assigned.
Other safeguards and
checks also are built into the four-step review process. For example,
during the first step, each application is evaluated independently
by at least eight different examiners. By the time the review is
over, some applicants will have gone through over 1,000 hours of
Is the number
of applications for the award an indicator of interest about quality
and the Baldrige Award?
The number of applicants for the national Baldrige
Award is not an indicator of overall interest in quality or the
award program. Interest continues to grow both nationwide and internationally.
For example, participation in state and local award programs has
increased steadily. In 1991, fewer than 10 states had award programs.
Now, 41 states have or are establishing award programs. Most are
modeled after the Baldrige Award, and many organizations opt to
compete for them first before considering a Baldrige Award application.
Many of the Baldrige Award recipients also have won state quality
nearly 80 quality programs are in place. Most have been established
within the past several years, and many are based on the Baldrige
Award. In Japan, home of the Deming Prize, an award that closely
resembles the Baldrige Award has been established.
it is important to remember the award program is much more than
a contest. While recognizing organizations that have successful
performance management systems is the most visible part of the program,
its intent is much broader. Equally important is the award’s
role in raising awareness about quality by encouraging all U.S.
businesses and organizations to set up performance improvement programs
whether or not they intend, or are even eligible, to apply for the
the Baldrige Award differ from ISO 9000?
The purpose, content, and focus of the Baldrige Award and ISO 9000
are very different. The Baldrige Award was created by Congress in
1987 to enhance U.S. competitiveness. The award program promotes
quality awareness, recognizes quality achievements of U.S. organizations,
and provides a vehicle for sharing successful strategies. The Baldrige
Award criteria focus on results and continuous improvement. They
provide a framework for designing, implementing, and assessing a
process for managing all business operations.
ISO 9000 is
a series of five international standards published in 1987 by the
International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Geneva, Switzerland.
Companies can use the standards to help determine what is needed
to maintain an efficient quality conformance system. For example,
the standards describe the need for an effective quality system,
for ensuring that measuring and testing equipment is calibrated
regularly and for maintaining an adequate record-keeping system.
ISO 9000 registration determines whether a company complies with
its own quality system.
9000 registration covers less than 10 percent of the Baldrige Award
Is the Baldrige
Award a U.S. version of Japans Deming award?
The basic purposes of both awards are the same: to promote recognition
of quality achievements and to raise awareness of the importance
and techniques of quality improvement. However, the Baldrige Award:
more on results and service,
- relies upon
the involvement of many different professional and trade groups,
special credits for innovative approaches to quality,
a strong customer and human resource focus, and
the importance of sharing information.
Why was NIST
selected by Congress to manage the award and what is the role of
NIST is a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST develops and promotes measurements,
standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade,
and improve the quality of life. NIST was selected by Congress to
design and manage the award program because of its role in helping
U.S. organizations compete, its world-renowned expertise in quality
control and assurance, and its reputation as an impartial third
American Society for Quality—assists NIST with the application
review process, preparation of award documents, publicity, and information
transfer. ASQ is a professional, non-profit association serving
more than 80,000 individual and 700 corporate members in the United
States and 62 other nations.
information, reporters should contact Michael Newman, NIST Public and
Business Affairs, (301) 975-3025, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Others should write or call the Baldrige
National Quality Program, NIST, Stop 1020, Gaithersburg, Md.
20899-1020, phone: (301) 975-2036, fax: (301) 948-3716. Information
also is available at www.baldrige.nist.gov.
back to Fact Sheet page
Last updated: 08/14/07