Twenty-nine U.S. companies, including 13 large manufacturers, six service companies and 10 small businesses, have submitted applications for the 1996 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's premier award for business excellence and quality achievement.
Managed by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology in cooperation with the private sector, the Baldrige Award has received 622 applications since the first competition was held in 1988. Twenty-four companies 13 large manufacturers, five service companies and six small businesses in a wide variety of industries have won the award.
The Baldrige Award program was established by Congress in 1987 not only to recognize individual U.S. companies for their quality achievements but also to promote quality awareness and to provide information on successful quality strategies. Over time the award criteria have evolved to represent a general performance and business excellence model.
"While the awards are a vital part of the program, the overall goal is much broader," says Harry Hertz, director of the Baldrige National Quality Program at NIST. "Performance excellence is the key to U.S. competitiveness. By working as partners with state and local organizations, we are building a national network to encourage all U.S. companies to make continuous performance improvement and quality management a way of doing business. Most companies will never apply for a state or national award, but if they improve their overall performance and capabilities, they will be winners none-the-less," says Hertz.
Private-sector reviews and surveys show that the Baldrige Award program has a profound effect on how people and organizations operate and work. For example, a recent report on the Baldrige Award program by the Council on Competitiveness states, "More than any other program, the Baldrige Quality Award is responsible for making quality a national priority and disseminating best practices across the United States."
During the upcoming months, each of the 29 Baldrige Award applications will be reviewed by at least 10 members of the award's board of 343 public, private-sector and academic examiners. Companies passing initial screening will be visited by a team of examiners to verify information provided in the application and to clarify issues and questions raised during the review of the applications. These site visits will occur in September. Winners of the 1996 award will be announced in the fall.
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 measurement and its reputation as an impartial third party.