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Eligibility Requirements Revised for 2015 Baldrige Award

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, the component of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that manages the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in cooperation with the private sector, has announced three changes in the eligibility requirements for the 2015 award. These improvements will expand opportunities for high-performing organizations to apply for the nation's highest honor recognizing organizational performance excellence and innovation.

The 2015 changes to Baldrige Award eligibility requirements are based on customer and stakeholder input. They:

  • Allow an organization showing a high level of maturity and superior performance metrics to apply for a waiver of the standard requirement of first achieving a top-level award sanctioned by the Alliance for Performance Excellence (a body made up of the 30-plus state, local, regional and sector-specific Baldrige-based programs serving nearly all 50 states);
  • Make prior Baldrige Award recipients qualified to reapply after 5 years no matter what new or revised eligibility requirements are established; and
  • Base the eligibility of an organizational subunit (such as an individual business unit within a larger manufacturing company) solely on its ability to respond to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence rather than its size or the percentage of external customers its serves.

A fact sheet detailing the changes to the eligibility requirements is available at

The exemption from the requirement that national award applicants be previous Alliance award program honorees is primarily intended to open the process to qualifying organizations that are not working with an Alliance program.

All applicants for the Baldrige Award are evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results.

The program helps U.S. organizations succeed in today's competitive marketplace by providing organizational assessment tools and criteria; educating leaders in businesses, schools, health care organizations, and government and nonprofit organizations about the practices of national role models; and recognizing them with the Baldrige Award in six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit.

The Baldrige Award, established by Congress in 1987, is not given for specific products or services. Since the first group was recognized in 1988, 101 awards have been presented to 95 organizations (including six repeat winners).

Organizations interested in applying for the 2015 Baldrige Award will be able to download the award eligibility and application forms from the Baldrige Program website,, in late October, 2014. To receive an e-mail message announcing the availability of the forms, and later, the latest Baldrige Criteria (being revised for 2015-2016), check "Baldrige Performance Excellence Program" in the list of subscriptions (after submitting your e-mail address) at

Released October 6, 2014, Updated January 20, 2023