Education and health care organizations would have their own award categories as part of President Clinton's fiscal year 1998 budget proposal for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, managed by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. The proposed budget includes $2.3 million for the awards.
At a ceremony last December for the 1996 Baldrige Award business winners, the President said, "I'm very pleased that there will be new winners in the categories of non-profit health care and education organizations. I can tell you that if you look at the percentage of our economy and more important, the stake in our quality of life and our future in health care and education, this is coming not a moment too soon."
Commerce Secretary William Daley said, "These new awards will be a wonderful opportunity to boost performance and services and to cut costs across the board--for consumers and companies, as well as at the government level."
The private Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award decided in December that it will raise an endowment to help establish an award program for these two sectors, provided federal funding also is available for support. The endowment will help fund activities such as printing and distributing criteria and training private-sector examiners who review applications. In 1988, the foundation raised $10.4 million to endow the current Baldrige Award open to for-profit businesses only.
If Congress appropriates funds for these new award categories, NIST expects to have criteria available by December 1997, and health care and education organizations could submit applications for the first awards in 1998.
The education and health care sectors have expressed clear interest in establishing Baldrige quality award programs for these communities. NIST has been working with these two communities for several years to establish award programs. In 1995, NIST conducted a successful pilot award program to determine the interest and readiness of health care and education organizations in participating in a Baldrige Award program. Forty-six health care and 19 education organizations submitted applications for the pilot. In conjunction with the pilot, NIST distributed more than 30,000 copies of the education and health care criteria modeled after the criteria for the business award. Federal funding was not available in 1996 or 1997 to continue the pilots or to establish award categories.
These new award programs could help education and health care organizations improve performance, facilitate communication and sharing of best practices, and foster partnerships involving schools, businesses, health care organizations, human services agencies and others," said Harry Hertz, director of the Baldrige National Quality Program at NIST. "Health care, education, business and government leaders are concerned about the costs to the economy of health care and education as well as the need for improved quality of services. Increasingly, these problems are affecting our country's economic development and competitiveness," said Hertz. "The performance excellence concepts embodied in the Baldrige Award criteria are being seen as a way to help meet these challenges," he said.
The FY 1998 budget request also includes $3 million for the existing Baldrige Quality Award for businesses.
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance U.S. competitiveness by promoting quality awareness, recognizing quality achievements of U.S. companies and publicizing successful performance strategies. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 28 companies have won the award.
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.