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Excellence by the Dozen: 12 Organizations Vie for 2012 Baldrige Award

Twelve U.S. organizations have reached the next step on the road to a possible silver anniversary Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest recognition for organizational performance excellence. The Baldrige Panel of Judges has selected one organization in the manufacturing category, one in service, two in small business, one in education, five in health care and two in nonprofit for the final review stage for the 2012 award. Starting this month, teams of experts will make site visits to these organizations to clarify questions and verify information submitted in Award applications.

This is the second time since the Baldrige Award was expanded to six categories—the other being 2010—that organizations in all of the categories will receive site visits.

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program received 39 applications in 2012 (one manufacturer, three service companies, two small businesses, three educational organizations, 25 health care organizations and five nonprofits/governmental organizations). The applicants were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. Examiners will provide 300 to 1,000 hours of review to each applicant receiving a site visit, and all applicants will receive a detailed report on the organization's strengths and opportunities for improvement.

The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients are expected to be announced in late November 2012. This year's Award process is special because both the Award and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program are celebrating their 25th anniversary (see the Web page, "Honoring Our Past . . . Building an Even Better Future."). The Baldrige Program also is building a larger, nationwide Baldrige enterprise, which required, for the first time this year, that any Baldrige Award applicant must have previously received its state's performance excellence award.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. The award—managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the private sector—promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 90 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.

Thousands of organizations use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to guide their enterprises, improve performance and get sustainable results. This proven improvement and innovation framework offers organizations an integrated approach to key management areas.

For more information on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and the Baldrige Award, see

Released August 31, 2012, Updated January 17, 2023