Since 1988, the President and Secretary of Commerce annually have presented U.S. organizations with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's premier award for performance excellence and quality achievement. Named after the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the award program was established by Congress in 1987 to recognize U.S. organizations for their achievements in quality and performance excellence and to raise awareness about the importance of quality and performance excellence as a competitive edge. Award categories include manufacturing, service, small business, and, starting in 1999, education and health care. Three awards may be given in each category each year.
Since 1999, a total of 42 applications have been submitted in the health care category, including 17 in 2002. This is the first year that winners have been named in the health care category.
Any for-profit or not-for-profit public or private organization that provides medical, surgical, or other health care services directly to people in the United States or its territories is eligible to apply for the award in the health care category. This includes hospitals, HMOs, long-term care facilities, health care practitioner offices, home health agencies, and dialysis centers. Applicants must show achievements and improvements in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; focus on patients, other customers, and markets; information and analysis; staff focus; process management; and organizational performance results.
All applicants for the Baldrige Award undergo a rigorous examination process that involves a minimum of 300 hours of outside review. Final-stage applicants are visited by teams of examiners to clarify questions and verify information. All applications are reviewed by an independent board of examiners primarily from the private sector. Each applicant receives a report citing strengths and opportunities for improvement. The Baldrige program is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, in conjunction with the private sector.
For more information, contact Jan Kosko, NIST Public and Business Affairs, (301) 975-2767.