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Fifty-Two Businesses, Education, Health Care Organizations Try for Nation's Top Award for Excellence

Fifty-two U.S. organizations, including four large manufacturers, 11 service companies, 12 small businesses, and, for the first time, 16 education and nine health care organizations have submitted applications for the 1999 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's premier award for performance 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 736 applications since the first competition was held in 1988. Thirty-five companies (including one company that has won twice) have earned the award in a wide variety of industries. This is the first year that not-for-profit education and health care organizations are eligible to apply for the award.

"Winning this prestigious award is a great honor and confirms that an organization is doing a lot of things right," said Commerce Secretary William Daley. "The new awards for education and health care organizations will be a wonderful opportunity to boost performance and quality, improve services and control costs," he said.

"You do not have to win the Baldrige Award to be a winner," said Kathleen Herald-Marlowe, chair of the Baldrige Award’s panel of judges and manager of quality at Exxon Research and Engineering Co. "Applying for the Baldrige Award is a great way for an organization to assess its performance system and marshal improvements guided by feedback from a topnotch set of outside experts," she said.

Applicants for the award must show achievements and improvements in seven categories: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management, and results. During the upcoming months, each of the 52 organizations applying for the Baldrige Award will receive a minimum of 300 hours of review by at least nine members of the award's board of more than 400 business, education, health care, and quality experts selected for their depth and breadth of knowledge.

Organizations passing an initial screening this summer will be visited by a team of examiners in the fall to verify information provided in the application and to clarify issues and questions raised during the review of the applications. Every applicant receives an extensive feedback report highlighting strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Winners of the 1999 award are expected to be announced in November by President Clinton and Commerce Secretary William Daley after the award's examiners and judges make their recommendations.

The Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 not only to recognize U.S. organizations for their quality achievements but also to promote quality awareness and to provide information on successful strategies. Over time, the award's criteria have evolved to represent a general performance and business excellence model. More than one and a half million copies of the Baldrige Award performance excellence criteriahave been distributed since 1988, and many more have been downloaded from the NIST World Wide Web site. Also, the criteria have been adopted by many international, state, company and other award programs.

Studies by NIST, universities, business organizations and the U.S. General Accounting Office have found that the benefits for using performance excellence models, such as the Baldrige criteria, include increased productivity, improved profitability and competitiveness, and satisfied employees and customers. For example, the hypothetical "Baldrige Index," made up of publicly traded U.S. companies that have received the Baldrige Quality Award during the years 1988 to 1997, has outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 every year since its creation four years ago.

NIST, an agency of the Commerce Department’s Technology Administration, promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, and the Baldrige National Quality Program.

Note to editors: To contact Kathleen Herald-Marlowe, call Charlene Kegerreis, public affairs representative, Exxon Research and Engineering Co., (973) 765-1116.

Released June 16, 1999, Updated November 27, 2017