How are recipients selected?
Organizations headquartered in the U.S. may apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Applications for the award are evaluated by an independent Board of Examiners composed of private- and public-sector experts in quality and continuous improvement (including managers, superintendents, and physicians, among other professionals) from all sectors of the economy. Examiners look for achievements and improvements in all seven categories of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. 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 Baldrige Award applicant receives a written summary of strengths and areas for improvement in each area addressed by the Baldrige Criteria.
Can only U.S. organizations receive the award?
Any organization headquartered in the U.S. or its territories may apply for the award, including U.S. subunits of foreign companies.
Do the Baldrige Award criteria take into account an organization's financial performance?
Yes. The Baldrige 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?
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.
To what extent are they asked to share their strategies?
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 annual Quest for Excellence® 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.
Do advertising 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 ensure their advertising is appropriate in representing their Baldrige Award recognition.
If this is a federal government program, why are organizations charged a fee to apply?
In FY2012, the federal appropriation for the Baldrige Program was zeroed out in favor of more private-sector funding and a cost-recovery strategy. In addition to revenue from the sales of the Criteria for Performance Excellence, application fees for the award and Baldrige Collaborative Assessment, as well as other revenue-generating activities designed to recover costs, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Foundation gifted funds to NIST to manage the program and keep it within the federal government. The application fees are charged to cover expenses associated with distribution and review of applications and development of feedback reports. (It should be noted that application fees have always been charged, but some expenses were previously covered by the Foundation and by appropriation.) The application and review process is considered to be a very cost-effective and comprehensive business health audit. Every applicant receives 300 to 1,000 hours of review and 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."