In a letter honoring 2013 Baldrige Award recipients Pewaukee School District and Sutter Davis Hospital, President Barack Obama wrote,
When our organizations maximize efficiency, enhance services and customer satisfaction, and develop effective operations, they help our economy thrive and ensure America remains on the cutting edge of innovation. I commend all those committed to strengthening enterprises and pushing our country forward, and I wish everyone gathered all the best. . . . For more than two decades, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has recognized organizations throughout our country committed to performance excellence.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker read from the President's letter Sunday evening as part of her remarks at the Baldrige Award Ceremony (see additional story and photos), formally recognizing the small K-12 school district and the nonprofit, 48-bed acute care hospital for their pursuit of excellence.
"The fact is, a healthy, educated nation is a competitive nation," remarked Secretary Pritzker. "By providing top-quality education for American youth, we ensure that our future workforce will have the tools and knowledge not only to help businesses grow, but also to help society thrive. And by providing top-quality medical care, we ensure that more Americans live longer, fuller lives-- maximizing their contributions to our country."
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is "having a broader impact beyond traditional industries and sectors," said Secretary Pritzker at the ceremony, recounting how the program was born from the legacy of Secretary of Commerce Mac Baldrige, a role-model American business leader of the 1980s.
"As global competition heated up, Mac stressed that our nation should respond by focusing on one thing--assuring the high quality of American products," Pritzker said.
In Mac's honor after his death, private-sector executives and legislators worked together to create the Baldrige Program. From there came the development of specific guidance (the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence) to help businesses focus on continuous improvement and the bottom-line. Today, the Criteria are used by businesses and health care, education, and nonprofit organizations as a management framework to improve all aspects of their organizations.
Although the initial focus of the Baldrige Award was on for-profit manufacturing and services companies, Pritzker said, in 1999, education and health care organizations became eligible, "with the rationale that institutions from these sectors could also benefit from high standards set by the Baldrige Criteria."
Read the blog "Celebrating the 2013 Baldrige Award Recipients" for more information on the results they have achieved.