*At time of award
For more information
U.S. Army Armament Research,
Development and Engineering Center
Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000
pica.baldrige.questions [at] conus.army.mil (pica[dot]baldrige[dot]questions[at]conus[dot]army[dot]mil)
From the cannonballs fashioned for George Washington’s Continental Army to the laser-guided artillery currently being used in combat, Warfighters defending and protecting the United States from its enemies rely on having the best weaponry and ammunition available. The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC)—one of the specialized research, development, and engineering centers within the U.S. Army Materiel Command—has been responsible for meeting this critical demand. ARDEC develops 90 percent of the Army’s armaments and ammunition including warheads, explosives, all sizes of firearms, battlefield sensors, and advanced weaponry based on high-power microwaves, high-energy lasers, and nanotechnology.
The Center’s annual net revenue is in excess of $1 billion. Of its nearly 3,000 employees, more than two-thirds are scientists and engineers. The ARDEC headquarters in Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., is home to 2,500 staff with the other employees located at ARDEC satellite offices and facilities in Illinois, Maryland, and New York.
Dramatic changes in the types of adversaries and technologies that U.S. Warfighters face, the ongoing transformation of the military services, and increasing competition for funding combine to make the delivery of innovative technologies to the U.S. Army more important than ever. In this demanding environment, ARDEC not only has maintained its position as provider of choice to its Army customers but has also expanded its market. Since 2001, ARDEC’s customer base has shifted from virtually 100 percent Army customers to approximately 83 percent Army and 17 percent non-Army, including organizations such as the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Department of Homeland Security.
ARDEC applies a team approach to all project and strategic planning activities, and the teams often include Department of Defense (DoD) organizations, defense contractors, and other government agencies. Such collaborations and partnerships allow ARDEC to leverage its own capabilities and accelerate the development of crucial innovations. This multifaceted quest for excellence has had a significant impact on ARDEC’s bottom line:
ARDEC’s end-users are, of course, U.S. Warfighters whose lives depend on the products provided. To steadily improve itself and its products on behalf of those customers, ARDEC has been applying the Baldrige Criteria to its operations since the 1990s. In 2004, ARDEC reorganized itself around a capability- and competency-based structure, and followed this in 2005 with the adoption of Enterprise Excellence—a strategy built around a Baldrige framework and integrating best practices such as Balanced Scorecard, Lean/Six Sigma, Capability Maturity Model Integration, and ISO. As a result of this quality journey, ARDEC has:
ARDEC’s overall customer satisfaction ratings increased from 3.48 (on a 4-point scale) in FY 2000 to 3.75 in FY 2007, exceeding both government and industry benchmarks. During 2004-2007, satisfaction among Army customers remained fairly consistent at 3.62, while satisfaction among non-Army customers increased from 3.82 to 3.92. This success has grown largely out of ARDEC’s Voice of the Customer (VOC) program. Web-based customer satisfaction surveys provide 1,500 data points and over 60 pages of comments each quarter, with the results available to everyone in the ARDEC workforce.
ARDEC also has developed a number of tools to help it react quickly and effectively to customer needs. For example:
The skills and expertise that ARDEC requires in its workforce are not taught in universities or readily obtainable through previous work experience. Therefore, the Center created an internal Armament University to provide its staff with specialized training. Staff also has access to continuing education, including advanced degree programs and Lean/Six Sigma training, to support continuous improvement and innovation. More than $3 million was spent in tuition assistance for ARDEC employees in 2006.
In addition to these enrichment opportunities, the Center devotes significant time, resources, and funding to keeping ARDEC staff “fully engaged and satisfied,” a goal that survey results show is being met. For example:
ARDEC’s strong attention to its workforce has not gone unnoticed. In 2005, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics recognized ARDEC with a Gold-Level Workforce Development Award, and in 2007, ARDEC received an American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) BEST Award for Workplace Learning and Performance, ranking sixth in a field of more than 100 organizations.
ARDEC strives to be a good neighbor to the communities surrounding its facilities and an ardent supporter of the greater Army community. For example: