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Baldrige FAQs

Baldrige Performance Excellence Program
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
Applying for the Award
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Recipients
Baldrige Examiners
Baldrige Excellence Framework
Health Care and Education Sectors
Baldrige Criteria; ISO 9001, 9004:2009
Baldrige Cybersecurity Initiative

Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

What is the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program?

What are the impacts of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program?

Who are the Baldrige Program's private-sector partners?

Why did Congress select NIST to manage the Baldrige Program?
NIST is a nonregulatory federal agency of the Department of Commerce. Its primary mission is to advance measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve the quality of life. Congress selected NIST to design and manage the Baldrige Program because of its role in helping U.S. companies compete, its world-renowned expertise in quality and measurement, and its reputation as an impartial third party.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?

Who was Malcolm Baldrige?

Why was the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award established?

How many organizations have applied for the Baldrige Award? 

How can an applicant win a state award and be turned down for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award? Are state awards less stringent?
State, regional, and local Baldrige-based programs that are members of the Alliance for Performance Excellence serve as a feeder system for the national Baldrige Award. They recognize role models in their states or regions. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is given to organizations recognized as role models at the national level, which may sometimes require a higher level of performance.

Is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award a U.S. version of Japan's Deming Prize?
While both awards focus on quality and performance improvement, the Baldrige Award focuses on an organization's overall competitiveness. In contrast to Japan's Deming Prize, the Baldrige Award

  • focuses more on results and service
  • relies on the involvement and insight of professionals representing many different professions, sectors, and groups
  • focuses on strategy for the future
  • includes a strong focus on customers and the workforce
  • stresses the importance of sharing information

An award that more closely resembles the Baldrige Award is the Japan Quality Award. In fact, the Japan Quality Award, Baldrige Program, and other international quality award programs, called the GEM (Global Excellence Model) Council, meet annually to benchmark each other, work on common concerns, and guide future development.

Applying for the Award

Why Should Organizations Apply for the Award?

What are the fees to apply for the award? 

Is my organization eligible to apply?

What is the Feedback Report?

How long does it take to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?
The effort of applying for the Baldrige Award will depend on a variety of factors, including how much of the necessary data and other information your organization has on hand. First-time applicants report that it took them an average of 100 hours for their initial response, which included reviewing instructions and writing the application.

Do you need a consultant for the application process in order to win?
No. Many applicants have gone outside their organizations before applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to get objective assessments or to test their own self-assessments. Many organizations participate in a state or local Baldrige-based award program. Some have also hired consultants to help them prepare their award applications, but doing so is certainly not a requirement and not all applicants do so. Some have also been able to establish close relationships with prior award recipients, who repeatedly say that the goal should not be to win, however gratifying that may be. Rather, all applicants are winners because they learn so much by applying.

While I would value the feedback, why would I want to put in the work that is required for a site visit?
Applicants report that the benefits of a site visit outweigh the costs. They usually desire a site visit because scoring high enough to be selected is a considerable accomplishment, even though a site visit requires the attention of many people in applicant organizations. Applicants that receive a site visit are also delighted because a site visit has an electrifying effect on the organization, increasing workforce morale and commitment to improvement. In addition, a site visit gives the applicant an opportunity to clarify what it wrote in the application, which ultimately makes for a better feedback report. Of course, an applicant can decline to host a site visit, even if it achieves that level in the evaluation process.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Recipients

Which organizations have received the Baldrige Award?

Which states have had Baldrige Award recipients?

How many organizations have applied?

How are recipients selected?

Can only U.S. organizations receive the award?

Does the Baldrige Excellence Framework take into account an organization's financial performance?
Yes. The Baldrige Excellence Framework® and its 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 the two.

Does the Baldrige Award amount to a product or service endorsement for the Baldrige Award recipients?
No. The Baldrige Award is given because an organization has shown it has an outstanding system for managing its products, services, human resources, and customer (including student and patient) 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 engagement efforts and results. That does not mean that a recipient's products or services are endorsed.

Why are the Baldrige Award recipients asked to share their successful strategies and to what extent?
One of the main purposes of the Baldrige 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. Each Baldrige Award recipient decides how much time and effort to devote to activities such as speaking engagements and tours of facilities. The requirements of the Baldrige Program are minimal. Recipients are asked to participate in the award's Quest for Excellence® Conference and the Baldrige Fall Conference presented by the Alliance for Performance Excellence in partnership with the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, to provide basic materials to those who request it on their organization's performance strategies and methods, and to answer news media inquiries.

Are Fortune 500 companies winning the Baldrige Award?
Of the 123 award recipients since 1988, 4 have been Fortune 500 companies: Motorola (1988), Federal Express Corp. (1990), Eastman Chemical Co. (1993), and Solectron Corp. (1991, 1997). Several other award recipients are subunits of Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, AT&T, Boeing, Caterpillar, Dana Corporation, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, Merrill Lynch, Motorola, Raytheon (formerly Texas Instruments), Verizon Communications (formerly GTE), and Xerox. Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. (2010) is a subunit of Nestlé, a global Fortune 100 company. Many subunits are large companies in their own right. Cadillac, a division of General Motors, was an award recipient in 1990. Award recipients Sunny Fresh Foods (1999 and 2005, now Cargill Kitchen Solutions)  and Cargill Corn Milling (2008) are businesses of Cargill, Inc., the largest privately held U.S. corporation, which would rank in the top 10 companies in the Fortune 500 if it were publicly held.

Do Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients and applicants sustain their performance improvement efforts?
Baldrige Award recipients continue to strive for performance excellence. It is expected that recipients will continue their efforts, since they have embraced a system that requires commitment to continuous improvement. Unlike ISO 9001, which registers a quality system, Baldrige evaluates whether an applicant has embedded a dynamic management system aimed at pursuing ongoing performance improvement with a goal of excellence in its organization. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are dynamic, setting new challenges for both Baldrige Award recipients and applicants. This is shown by the fact that award recipients often say that their rate of improvement goes up markedly after they receive the award.

For two-time winners of the Baldrige Award, median growth in revenue between awards was 85%, and median growth in jobs was 55.5%. By comparison, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average growth in jobs was 4.6% for a matched set of industries and time periods for each recipient.

Are award recipients required to share trade secrets?
Baldrige Award recipients do not have to share proprietary information, even if it was part of their award application. Award recipients are required to share nonproprietary information about their successful performance and quality strategies with other U.S. organizations. The principal—and only required—mechanism for award recipients to share information is The Quest for Excellence® Conference. Many award recipients also participate in the annual Baldrige Fall Conference. The cost of sharing information often is outweighed by the benefits received. The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program assists in information sharing by providing profiles of and contact information for Baldrige Award recipients.

Do Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients become more profitable after receiving the award?
Award recipients report that they benefit from the application process and from receiving the award. Many award recipients gained new customers after receiving the award—customers they believe they would not have gained were it not for the award. Besides additional business, they see improved results, gain benchmarking partners, receive nationwide and worldwide recognition, promote individual and organizational learning, and increase internal motivation. Receiving the award, however, is not a guarantee of increased profitability, which is based on many factors.

How does the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award affect financial results/shareholder value?
The Baldrige Program does not maintain information on the financial results of individual organizations. However, award recipients provide some financial results in their application summaries.

Baldrige Examiners

What is required of examiners? How many hours?

How are Baldrige examiners selected?

What are the benefits of serving as an examiner? Are examiners paid?

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Baldrige Excellence Framework and Criteria

I've never used the Criteria before. How can I start using them to improve my organization?

What are the Baldrige Excellence Framework and Criteria for Performance Excellence?

Can a small business with limited resources get results from the Baldrige process?

Is interest in the Baldrige Criteria increasing?
Since their inception in 1988, the Baldrige Excellence Framework have accelerated in acceptance and importance. Demand for the Criteria remains high, and the Criteria have been incorporated into many books and articles. The Criteria pages remain some of the most popular web pages within the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Organizations of all sizes and types use the Criteria for improvement and self-assessment, including large and small manufacturers; banks and other service providers; small businesses from consulting firms to fast-food restaurants; K–12 school systems, universities, and proprietary education organizations; hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other health care organizations; nonprofit organizations; and local, state, and federal government agencies.

According to a 2013 survey of CEO members of the American College of Health Care Executives and senior, provider-based members of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, 65% of surveyed hospitals are likely to "use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as a systematic framework for performance improvement or as an internal assessment tool" by 2018. In addition, 41% of respondents said they were likely to submit an application for the Baldrige Award or a state-based Baldrige-based award by 2018. Globally, many business excellence programs use the Baldrige Criteria or criteria similar to Baldrige as their performance excellence models. The growth and success of Baldrige-based award programs at the state and local level and in the U.S. government also show that the Baldrige Criteria are recognized as a proven diagnostic tool for assessing organizational performance.

How long will it take to do a self-assessment?
The time required to prepare a self-assessment will depend on a variety of factors, including how much data your organization has already assembled, the size or complexity of your organization, and the thoroughness of the assessment you choose to conduct. A first self-assessment can frequently be accomplished in a one-day meeting. The amount of time it takes to prepare a full, written self-assessment and the time it takes to prepare a Baldrige Award application (an average of 100 hours for first-time applicants) are typically about the same.

Health Care and Education Sectors

Why should an education or health care organization consider Baldrige?  

How many education and health care Baldrige Award recipients are there?

How does Baldrige compare to accreditation by organizations (e.g., the Joint Commission, National Committee for Quality Assurance, and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools)? What is the value of Baldrige for a health care or education organization?
Baldrige is focused on performance excellence and setting stretch standards. Accreditation is focused on setting the base standards that all organizations must meet to be considered acceptable providers of health care or education services. All organizations must be accredited; only role-model organizations will achieve Baldrige recognition. Nevertheless, a Baldrige self-assessment will help all organizations proceed beyond accreditation to setting excellence goals—and improve the whole organization.  Incidentally, some accreditation organizations (e.g., DNV GL-Healthcare, the Joint Commission, and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs) are incorporating elements of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence into their assessments.

Baldrige Criteria; ISO 9001, 9004:2009

Should your organization use Baldrige or pursue other performance management systems or tools?
Baldrige is compatible with these systems and tools. In fact, recent iterations of many standards and accreditations have become more similar to Baldrige. Some now include a systems perspective, self-assessment, process management, a focus on results, and expanding procedures to become more performance-based and systematic in evaluations.

  • ISO’s (International Organization for Standardization’s) purpose is to facilitate international trade by providing a single set of conformity standards.
  • The Joint Commission certifies health care providers’ processes.
  • Accreditation organizations conduct evaluations of K-12 school districts and higher education institutions for accreditation purposes.

Some organizations may believe that, to become more competitive, they must complete ISO registration or implement Lean and Six Sigma, as well as implementing Baldrige. Many organizations use Baldrige as an overall management and leadership framework to identify and evaluate what is important to them. After they identify strengths and opportunities for improvement with Baldrige, they use ISO, Lean, and Six Sigma, and other improvement tools to build on their strengths and make improvements.


  • Baldrige Customer Service
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    Gaithersburg, MD 20899-1020
Created October 25, 2010, Updated February 22, 2023