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'New and Improved' Baldrige Criteria Now Available

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence—described by one industry CEO as "probably the single most influential document in the modern history of American business"—serves both as the standard for selecting the annual recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the road map for organizations worldwide seeking improved operations through innovation and performance excellence. The three editions of the 2009-2010 Criteria—for Business/Nonprofit, Health Care and Education—are now available for downloading* at

The most significant revisions to the criteria are:

  • An increased focus on customer (or patient/stakeholder or student/stakeholder) engagement. With the improved Criteria, organizations can better assess their ability to deliver relevant programs, services and products, develop a customer culture, and listen to the "voice of the customer."
  • An enhanced emphasis on core competencies that stresses their importance to an organization's mission, strategy and sustainability.
  • A new consideration of societal responsibilities that explores how organizations contribute to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of themselves and their community.

Over 10 million copies of the criteria have been distributed since the first Baldrige Award cycle in 1988, and about 2 million copies are downloaded annually. Seven categories make up the criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 75 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.

The Baldrige program is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in conjunction with the private sector.

* Paper copies of the criteria will be mailed if requested from nqp [at] (nqp[at]nist[dot]gov) or by calling (301) 975-2036.
Released December 23, 2008, Updated January 17, 2023