Take a sneak peek at the new NIST.gov and let us know what you think!
(Please note: some content may not be complete on the beta site.).

View the beta site
NIST logo

Applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Improve Performance and Get World-Class Results

Applicants for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)—those that have received the award and those that haven’t—say the Baldrige evaluation process is one of the best, most cost-effective, most comprehensive performance assessments your organization can find. In annual surveys conducted by the Judges Panel of the MBNQA, applicants have noted the following benefits:

Accelerated improvement efforts: The application process itself accelerates and goes beyond internal self-assessments by bringing a rigorous, objective, external viewpoint to an organization’s internal improvement process.

Energized employees: Pursuing a common goal motivates employees, resulting in energized improvement efforts.

An outside perspective: Applying for the Baldrige Award is an opportunity to have a team of experts examine your organization objectively and identify strengths and opportunities to improve. Eight to ten trained experts from an independent Board of Examiners each spend a minimum of 100 hours reviewing each application, and site-visited applicants receive an additional 1,000 hours of review.

Learning from the feedback: Each applicant receives an objective, nonprescriptive, written feedback report of its strengths and opportunities for improvement based on an examination of its award application against the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. Organizations often use the report in their strategic planning to focus on their customers and improve results, as well as to help energize and guide improvement efforts.

Aligned efforts and resources: The linkages among the requirements of the seven Baldrige Criteria categories help your organization achieve better coordination and consistency among plans, processes, information, resource decisions, actions, results, analysis, and learning.

An integrated approach to management: Management benefits from the big-picture systems perspective embedded in the integrated structure of the Baldrige core values and concepts, the Baldrige Criteria, and the scoring guidelines. This perspective helps your organization channel activities in consistent directions, ensuring unity of purpose while supporting agility, innovation, and decentralized decision making.

Focus on results: Results are the bottom line in the Baldrige process: 450 of the 1,000 points in the Baldrige scoring system are allocated to results, one of seven Baldrige Criteria categories. This results focus helps your organization determine the most critical areas to measure, create and balance value for key stakeholders, and improve performance in key areas such as customer engagement, process performance, product performance, student learning, and health care outcomes.

Enhanced certification and accreditation efforts: Recent iterations of standards from organizations in widely varying fields—such as those from the International Organization for Standardization, the Joint Commission, and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools—are compatible with the Baldrige Criteria. In some cases, organizations can substitute a Baldrige application for an assessment.

Role-model status and pride: Even though Baldrige Award recipients tell the Baldrige Program that applying for the award is not about winning, they also report that their organizations and communities develop a tremendous sense of pride. Baldrige Award recipients share their stories and best performance practices with thousands of people around the country and the world. And Baldrige Award recipients help improve the competitiveness of U.S. organizations by inspiring them to improve their performance.

About the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can receive. The award focuses on performance in five key areas:

  • Product and process outcomes
  • Customer-focused outcomes
  • Workforce-focused outcomes
  • Leadership and governance outcomes
  • Financial and market outcomes
Organizations don’t receive the award for specific products or services. To receive the award, an organization must have a system that

  • ensures continuous improvement in overall performance in delivering products and/or services
  • provides an approach for satisfying and responding to customers and stakeholders
Up to 18 awards are given annually across six eligibility categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care, and nonprofit. Award recipients that are nominated for a subsequent award are not included in the total cap of 18.

Award recipients must share information about their exceptional performance practices with other U.S. organizations, but they don’t need to share proprietary information, even if they included this information in their award applications. The principal mechanisms for sharing information are the annual Quest for Excellence Conference®, and several one-day regional conferences. Sharing beyond the Quest for Excellence Conference is voluntary.

Site-visited organizations that are not recommended for the award may be recognized for category best practices. Best practices identified by the Judges Panel in categories 1 through 6 are eligible for recognition. To receive this recognition, an applicant’s overall organizational performance in the identified category must demonstrate mature processes that are linked to the appropriate organizational results, demonstrating favorable levels and trends. Also, the applicant organization must have credible performance across all categories. An applicant may be recognized for more than one category best practice or for none at all. Organizations receiving such category recognition will present at the Quest for Excellence Conference following their recognition. Such organizations will be recognized in the annual award ceremony program, but not on stage, and the Baldrige Program will highlight them on our Web site and in a press release.

The Baldrige Program keeps the identity of all applicant organizations confidential unless they receive the award or category best-practice recognition. We treat all information submitted by applicants as strictly confidential, and we have numerous protocols and processes in place to protect applicants and ensure the integrity of the award.
Bookmark and Share

The application and review process for the award is the best, most cost-effective, and comprehensive business health audit you can get.

--Arnold Weimerskirch, Former Chair,
Baldrige Award Panel of Judges, and
Vice President of Quality, Honeywell, Inc.
photo of the Baldrige crystal
Award Crystal photo by Steuben

Baldrige Customer Service:
301-975-2036 Telephone
301-948-3716 Fax
baldrige@nist.gov Email

red-envelope-small Sign Up for Baldrige Email Alerts