Non-profit education and healthcare organizations will be able to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award next year if funding is approved as part of President Clinton’s fiscal year 1999 budget proposal, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology announced today. The proposed budget includes $2.3 million for the new award categories.
Commerce Secretary William Daley said, "The same benefits that U.S. businesses have gained as a result of the Baldrige Award can—and should be— extended to non-profit healthcare and education organizations. These communities want it and so does business."
In May 1997, the private Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award announced a $15 million fund drive to raise an endowment to help establish an award program for these two sectors, provided federal funding also is available for support. "Thousands of businesses have dramatically improved their competitiveness and effectiveness by using the Baldrige Award criteria. We look forward to having the same opportunity available to America’s healthcare and education sectors," said Roger Ackerman, chairman and CEO of Corning Incorporated and president of the Baldrige Award foundation.
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.
The education and healthcare sectors have expressed strong interest in establishing Baldrige quality award programs for these communities. In 1995, NIST conducted a successful pilot award program to determine the interest and readiness of healthcare and education organizations in participating in a Baldrige Award program. Forty-six healthcare and 19 education organizations submitted applications for the pilot. In conjunction with the pilot, NIST distributed over 30,000 copies of performance excellence criteria modeled after the criteria for the business award.
Since then, federal funding has not been available to continue the pilots or to establish award categories. However, with funding from the U.S. Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs, NIST is revising the performance excellence criteria for healthcare and education organizations.
More than 40 state quality award programs are based on the Baldrige Award program, and 35 of these recognize healthcare and education organizations. Recently, the state of New Jersey passed a bill enabling school systems to use the New Jersey Quality Achievement Award criteria (based on the Baldrige criteria) as a substitute for the existing state assessment criteria.
The new Baldrige award programs could help education and healthcare organizations improve performance and internal communication. These new programs should facilitate the sharing of best practices and foster partnerships involving schools, businesses, healthcare organizations, human services agencies and others, said Harry Hertz, director of the Baldrige National Quality Program at NIST.
"Increasingly, the costs of healthcare and the need for improved education 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 1999 budget also includes $3.1 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, 32 awards have been presented.
As 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.
NOTE TO EDITORS AND REPORTERS: Following are several people outside of NIST who are familiar with the Baldrige Award program and the proposed new categories: