The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced today that 71 companies have applied for the 1994 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. They include 23 manufacturing firms, 18 service companies and 30 small businesses. Last year, 76 companies applied and two won.
The award program was established by legislation in August 1987 to recognize quality achievements of U.S. companies and promote national awareness about the importance of improving quality management.
Firms applying for the 1994 award provide details on their quality management system, citing achievements and improvements in seven areas: leadership, information and analysis, strategic quality planning, human resource development and management, management of process quality, quality and operational results, and customer focus and satisfaction.
The applications are evaluated by an independent NIST- appointed board of about 260 quality experts, primarily from the private sector. The examination includes on-site visits for applicants passing an initial screening. These will take place in September.
"The award and the award winners are a vital part of this national effort to improve the quality of U.S. products and services," says Curt Reimann, director for quality programs at NIST. "We are very pleased that interest in the award remains strong, particularly so in the service and small business categories," adds Reimann.
"But the program is more than a contest. The Baldrige Award has helped U.S. companies realize that quality is a crucial business weapon they need to remain competitive," says Reimann.
More than 1 million copies of the award's criteria are being used by companies and organizations worldwide—as a "blueprint" to set up a quality improvement program, as a training guide and as a way to measure an existing quality improvement program against world-class standards.
A recent study by The Conference Board, a worldwide business membership organization, says, "A majority of large U.S. firms have used the criteria of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for self-improvement, and the evidence suggests a long-term link between use of the Baldrige criteria and improved business performance."
Also, about 50 state, local and international quality awards—sometimes called "Baby Baldriges"—are modeled after the U.S. national quality award. Reimann estimates that almost 500 companies and organizations applied for the U.S. awards in 1993. "This is exactly the sort of activity Congress had in mind when the award program was created," says Reimann, who expects this trend to continue.
The 1994 Baldrige Award winners will be announced this fall. The awards are presented by the president of the United States at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The program is managed by NIST with the active involvement of the private sector, including the American Society for Quality Control. Awards may be given each year in three categories: manufacturing, service and small business. The award is not given for specific products or services.
A non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards. NIST was selected by Congress to design and manage the award program because of its role in helping U.S. companies compete, its world-renowned expertise in quality control and assurance, and its reputation as an impartial third party.