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Remarks by the President at Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Ceremony

Remarks by the President at Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Ceremony


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release: March 7, 2002

Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, D.C.
11:05 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Secretary Evans. And thank you all very much. It's an honor to be back here. It's a pleasure to see so many students here today. I understand some of you took a tour of the White House. You must have behaved well, because I didn't hear the dogs barking. (Laughter.) I hope you enjoyed being there as much as Laura and I enjoy being there. It's a fabulous place, the White House is. I'm so glad you were able to see it.

I'm also pleased to be back to congratulate the award winners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. I'm really pleased that school districts have been added. I want to commend the Baldrige Committee for including education. Secretary Rod Paige is here -- both of us believe so strongly that no child should be left behind. Both of us know the potential of the public school systems in America, and we want to thank and congratulate the school districts here that have set the highest of high standards not only at the secondary level, but also at the high level of education.

I was privileged to know Malcolm Baldrige. He was one of America's most distinguished Secretaries of Commerce. And what a fine and honorable man he was. The award that bears his name reflects the virtues that he brought to public service and how he lived in his private life, a commitment to excellence, shrewd judgment and sound judgment, principled leadership, integrity, and a sense of responsibility.

Today's honorees have met a rigorous test, and such a worthy example for others. And I know Malcolm would have approved of the winners.

It's a great honor to be with Midge Baldrige again -- you're looking pretty darn good these days. (Laughter.) And Letitia Baldrige, as well. I know we've got some members of the United States Congress here -- I think Bill Jenkins from Tennessee is here. I know Connie Morella is here. Thank you for coming, Connie. I also appreciate Nancy Murkowski, the wife of Frank Murkowski. Nancy is committed to quality education in the state of Alaska, and I know you're as proud as I am for the winners who are here. (Applause.) And I always want to thank the U.S. Army Band for providing such wonderful music. (Applause.)

I appreciate the fact that prior winners of the Baldrige Award are here. I think it's important for you to stay involved in the process. As you heard, some of the recipients also appreciate of you being here. And I want towelcome five more organizations to your ranks. (Applause.) The school districts; the University of Wisconsin-Stout; as well as the fine symbols of entrepreneurial spirit in America, Pal's Sudden Service of Tennessee, and of course, Clarke American Checks, represented by some rowdy Texans. (Applause.)

This is a high, high honor. I know you all understand what a big deal this is, having gone through the process. It is an important award, and I congratulate you all so very much. The award goes to organizations rather thanany single individual. And that's important to note. As we've seen today, success happens in an atmosphere of teamwork, common values, and trust.

An organization needs a good idea and a good product or a good service. It certainly needs a good strategic plan. But more than anything, it needs good people -- men and women of integrity, who understand their duties to eachother and to the public interest.

And this is true throughout our entire economy. The free enterprise system draws upon the best in people: creativity, ingenuity, energy, a desire to make life better for ourselves and for others. The whole design of free market capitalism depends upon free people acting responsibly. Business people must answer not just to the demands of the market or self-interest, but to the demands of conscience.

The bottom line of the balance sheet defines a business's goal, but not the sum of responsibilities of its leaders. Management should respect workers. A firm should be loyal to the community, mindful of the environment.

In America, by far -- by far -- most businesses fulfill their responsibilities. They do not cut ethical corners, or neglect workers, or disregard community standards. A good business finds opportunities and makes the most of them. And a good business always respects the boundaries of right and wrong.

In our country, the law defines many of these responsibilities, from workplace safety to environmental protection. For publicly-held corporations the law goes further, defining standards of disclosure with independent certification by auditing firms.

We have seen lately just how important these standards are, and the harm that can follow when they are ignored. Exactly where the blame lies may take a long time to determine, and legal judgments are for regulators and for courts. But this much is clear: To properly inform shareholders and the investing public we must adopt better standards of disclosure and accounting practices for all of corporate America.

The reason that a single bankruptcy can cause so much concern in America is that more Americans than ever have invested their money in public corporations. Today, about 80 million Americans own stock, either individually or through their pension plans. This is one of the causes for the expansion in personal wealth over the past 20 years. This has been an incredibly positive development for America. Stock ownership allows citizens from all walks of life to own a part of the economy and to share in its growth. The people who run public companies owe a special obligation to these investors, many of whom have put their savings and future security on the line.

Corporate officers must perform their duty in good faith to the best of their abilities. They must disclose relevant facts to the investing public, and they must focus on the interests of shareholders who are the real owners of anypublicly-held enterprise.

I recognize that the basic rules of corporate law are made by the states, and that's as it should be. But Washington has responsibilities, as well. The buying and selling of publicly- held shares is regulated by the federal government. And today, I call upon the Securities and Exchange Commission to take action. Existing regulations should be clearer; penalties for wrongdoing should be tougher. Reform should improve investor confidence and help our economy to flourish and grow.

It is important to provide sound regulation and remedies where needed, without inviting a rush of new lawsuits that exploit new problems instead of solving them. Our goal is better rules so that conflict, suspicion and broken faith can be avoided in the first place.

Reform should begin with accountability, and reform should start at the top. The chief executive officer has a daily duty to oversee the entire enterprise, the entire firm, and therefore, bears a unique responsibility for serving shareholder interests.

Currently, a CEO signs a nominal certification of annual financial statements, and does so merely in its capacity on behalf of the company. In the future, the CEO's signature should also be his personal certification, vouching for the voracity and fairness of the financial disclosures. When he signs a statement, he's giving his word, and should stand behind it.

Oftentimes businesses base executive bonuses on financial statements. If, however, a financial statement turns out to be grossly inaccurate, or the result of serious misconduct, those bonuses should be returned to the company's treasury on behalf of it's shareholders. (Applause.)

Corporate officers should not be allowed to secretly trade their company's stock. Every time they buy or sell, they should be required to tell the public within two days. (Applause.) The Securities and Exchange Commissionshould be able to punish corporate leaders who clearly abuse their powers, by banning them from ever serving again as officers or directors of publicly held corporations. (Applause.)

We must also do more to safeguard the rights of investors. America has the best system of corporate disclosure. Yet, the interests of the average investor are sometimes overlooked, especially the need for thorough and timelyinformation about firm performance. And some corporations have used artful and intricate financial arrangements to hide the true risks of the investment.

We need to get back to basic capitalism. In a system based on the willingness to take risks, investors need to know the true nature of the risks. The investor has the right to a true and fair picture of assets, liabilities andincome. Management has a good-faith obligation to provide that information, attracting investment by building on strengths, not by clever concealment of weaknesses.

And to further ensure that information is reliable, we will need reforms within the accounting profession. Auditors are a critical external check on management, and we must ensure that the integrity of their work is never compromised. Accounting is one of the most and one of the most respected professions in our country, and it can help protect its own integrity by developing and enforcing clear standards of conduct.

The profession also needs an independent regulatory board to hold accounting firms to the highest ethical standards. And the SEC should exercise more effective and broad oversight of accounting standards. The SEC shouldalso do more to guard against conflicts of interest, requiring, for example, that an external auditor not be permitted to provide internal audits to the same client. (Applause.)

And, finally, auditors should do more than evaluate a company by minimum standards. Instead, the auditors should compare the company's financial controls to the best industry practices and give those findings to the audit committee.

You know, we're passing through extraordinary times here in America. We fight a war, a real war, to protect our homeland by bringing terrorists to justice. We stand strong against evil abroad -- I mean we are standing strongand determined and united against evil. (Applause.) We're finding strength at home through the gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness and generosity and goodness, neighbors helping neighbors, Americans adhering to the age-old call to love someone just like you'd like to be loved yourself.

America is ushering in a responsibility era; a culture regaining a sense of personal responsibility, where each of us understands we're responsible for the decisions we make in life. (Applause.) And this new culture must includea renewed sense of corporate responsibility. If you lead a corporation, you have a responsibility to serve your shareholders, to be honest with your employees. You have a responsibility to obey the law and to tell the truth. (Applause.)

Business relationships, like all human relationships, are built on a foundation of integrity and trust. When those values are practiced and expected, our economy and our country are stronger.

We're seeing some challenges and some changes in American business and American enterprise. Yet this annual presentation is a reminder of things that must never change: the passion for excellence, the drive to innovate, the hard work that goes with any successful enterprise, the need to be open, the call for integrity. This year's Baldrige Award winners have shown these qualities, and have taken their place in a distinguished line of leaders.

Once again, my congratulations to you all. May God bless your enterprises, and may God bless America.

Remarks by the 2001 Baldrige Award recipients

Baldrige Acceptance Speech by Nathaniel Moore, Chugach School District Student

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor and privilege to be here today representing the Chugach School District as one of this year's recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.As many of you know, in the past eight years Chugach School District has radically altered how we educate students. At the heart of this reform movement we have created and implemented a comprehensive standards-based system. With the input from all stakeholders in our small 22,000 square mile district, this new system steers away from the traditional 22 credit diploma that is based on seat time, and instead focuses on students demonstrating skills, and more importantly, applying them in real life. This system provides a clear road map of what students need to know and do in each content area. Besides mastery of these basic skills, the needs of the whole child are considered, including character development, career development, service learning, and technology. All skills we need to be successful in the 21st century.

These achievements definitely did not happen overnight. It has taken almost an entire decade to get where we are now. This proves that it takes dedication, hard work, and a large amount of patience to accomplish something like this. I'm proud to say that the staff of our district has shown that repeatedly. In addition to a very dedicated staff, it also takes hard work from the students. A student can no longer slide by with a D average on his or her report card. Students in our district have shown that, with clear relevant expectations, they are more likely to succeed. And succeed they have. After 8 years of refinements, where we once had 90% of our students unable to read at grade level, we now score near the top of our statewide testing.

From our success, we have teamed with other courageous leaders in the state who were willing to replicate a better performance-based system. In fact, 20% of the districts in Alaska have now committed to this belief system. Our ultimate goal, however, is to impact the rest of America; 1 million students, or 1,000 districts, whichever comes last. From my perspective, this system has challenged me unlike the traditional system. My standing here before you is testimony to this. I am the one responsible for my education. With my district's standards, I have a better knowledge of what I need to succeed, not only in school, but also in life.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all the other recipients of the award this year; especially the other education organizations that join the Chugach School District in being the first ever to win this prestigious award. May all of you continue to have success in your field.

I would also like to thank the members of the Malcolm Baldrige Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the panel of judges. But mostly, those brave examiners who overcame their fear of flying, braved the wilds of Alaska in the middle of winter, and believed in who we are and what we stand for.

Thank You

Remarks by Charles L. Korbell, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer
Clarke American Checks, Inc.

President Bush, Secretary Evans, distinguished guests, and fellow recipients:

It is my great honor to be here today along with 50 passionate Clarke American team members representing our 3300 associates across the nation.

Our quality journey began over 15 years ago with a simple but profound commitment to be "First in Service" to our customers, shareholders, and each other by providing superior quality and service. Our quality program was founded on key principles of quality management, which are still embedded in our culture today.

While we had a successful business, it was not until we set our sights on the Baldrige Award that we really began to understand the magnitude of change necessary to achieve world class performance.

Two things about Baldrige have had a dramatic impact on our company: benchmarking and assessments. First, seeing is believing and we benchmarked numerous Baldrige recipients. We saw quality integrated into the business strategy, customer-focused leadership driving innovation and growth, and team-based learning organizations. Most importantly, it taught us that you must have both continuous and breakthrough improvements to achieve world class business excellence.

Second, we used internal assessments to measure how well our goals and business practices were deployed. The feedback was a catalyst for change. The assessment process continues to have a dramatic, positive impact on our business. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the Baldrige examiners who perform these assessments. We thank you and sincerely appreciate all you do.

Throughout our First in Service journey, the associates of Clarke American, both past and present are the true shining stars. We have a culture that accepts change as a constant and where status quo is a problem. The outcome is continuous and breakthrough improvements that drive results and inspire our associates to stretch for even higher goals.

Clarke American associates live by our values and care deeply about each other, our company and our communities. We encourage associates to demonstrate passion and continually help them build on their capacity to love. This is what we mean when we talk about passionate associates - they "pour their hearts" into what they do and have a "burning" desire to delight our partners and customers. Our First in Service philosophy creates an environment where the customer wins, our partners win, and we win - that's what we call the "Triple Win."

We are even more energized today about the next steps in our journey that will move us closer to our vision. We will work diligently to fulfill our role as a recipient of this award. We intend to focus on building awareness and commitment to the Baldrige process in the financial institution industry which we serve. Achieving the Baldrige Award puts us in a unique position to demonstrate and share the positive results of deploying a customer-focused business strategy.

On behalf of all associates we proudly and humbly accept this recognition.

Thank you.

Remarks by Thom Crosby, President and CEO, Pal's Sudden Service

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, fellow award recipients, and distinguished guests: Speaking for all 465 members of the Pal's Sudden Service organization, we are honored and delighted to represent the first restaurant company to receive the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

The Baldrige Quality Award program is a vital national asset, setting the highest standards for excellence making American businesses and organizations more robust and competitive. Pal's is pleased to be involved in the Baldrige Quality Award process and very proud to be a successful American business. Receiving the Baldrige Award represents an important milestone in our continuing quest for excellence.

The members of the Pal's team, through their dedication to delighting customers, their creative approaches to improvement and problem solving, and constant focus on value creation has made being here today a reality. This team of super stars has:

Increased per store sales 20% in 2001 after 4 years of double digit sales growth.

Achieved employee turnover that is the lowest in our market,

Achieved customer satisfaction scores that are 10 percentage points above our best competitors,

Delivered the market's fastest and most accurate service, and

Won the Tennessee Quality Excellence Award.

In closing, I would like to thank the Pal's team again for creating the results that make Pal's a success. I want to say "thank you" to all who make the Baldrige Award program possible including the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the American Society for Quality, and all the individuals who volunteer their expertise and time such as examiners and judges, and to the organizations that support and participate in the Baldrige process. I especially would like to thank President Bush and Secretary of Commerce Evans for their active and visible support of the Baldrige Quality Award program to promote the highest standards of excellence.

Thank you.

Remarks by Richard E. Maurer, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, Pearl River School District

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, members of the Baldrige family, ladies and gentlemen and, most especially, students. I am honored to represent the 363 employees and 2,500 students of the Pearl River School District in New York State.

We did not become involved in the Baldrige process to win an award. We became involved because we knew that the process, when applied deeply in our schools and in our classrooms, would lead us to fulfill our mission that "every student can and will learn." We are dedicated to learning as an active process where our students discover and create knowledge.

We are blessed with a talented and dedicated faculty and staff. Our teachers, teaching assistants, secretaries, custodians, nurses, administrators, bus drivers and mechanics each and every day passionately believe that every child in front of them can learn. As a result, our staff is constantly learning, adapting, innovating, "stealing" best practices, and aligning our curriculum and improving our instruction. Baldrige provided the process; our staff provided the energy and passion.

A few of our accomplishments:

Our students achieve -·

  • 100% of our seniors graduate each year; 86% with a Regents diploma. The Regents diploma is the highest level of achievement in New York State.
  • 96% of our graduates attend college.
  • 67% of our seniors take Advanced Placement college courses, and 76% of these students receive college credit in high school.
  • 97% of our 4th graders passed the New York State English Language Arts and math tests.

Our community supports public schools -

  • 90% of all eligible students in Pearl River choose to attend our schools; we have captured the market.

Our taxpayers support our schools -

  • 90% of our budget comes from taxpayers; we have a 3 to 1 budget vote majority.

We have reduced costs -

  • In the past 11 years our per pupil costs have declined 9% and have been below the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase.
  • We have driven our tax dollars into instruction by decreasing non-instructional expenditures 21% and increasing instructional expenditures 43%.

We thank our students who make us proud. We love you.

We thank the Pearl River Board of Education and our community for the support it provides us to serve the children in times of celebration and in times of tragedy. We are a community with many New York City firefighters and police officers. In fact, one of our board members is with the NYPD. As a community we cried and mourned for our loved ones who died on September 11th. We honor their service.

As for Baldrige. We did not start out as a world-class school district. We are one now. Baldrige worked for us. It works for education. The people of Baldrige -- the examiners, the site visitors, and the staff here -- are the best.

Thank you, Mr. President, for recognizing our efforts, for witnessing the possibilities of excellence in education, and for sharing in our excitement.

Go Pirates!!

Remarks by Charles W. Sorensen, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Stout

President Bush, Secretary Evans, ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased, I am proud, I am humbled to accept the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award on behalf of a fine university - the University of Wisconsin-Stout. While I have this privilege of being on stage today, this award - the first ever given to a university - is really the reflection of a quality, dedicated faculty, academic staff, and clerical and service staff who made this possible. The beneficiaries are the 8,000 students that we serve annually, the taxpayers of the great state of Wisconsin, and of this country. The Baldrige Award is a demonstration of American dedication to hard work, focus, and commitment to excellence.

In many respects, UW-Stout began this journey over a century ago when James Huff Stout established the Stout Institute to meet the workforce challenges of the industrial revolution. Women were to study domestic sciences, and men mechanical arts. We have traveled a long way since 1891, but our mission remains constant - provide program and educational quality to meet the new challenges of the 21st Century, a digital century, a century of the knowledge revolution. When we officially adopted the Baldrige criteria in 1999, we did so because they offered the opportunity to demonstrate that we practiced performance excellence, and to demonstrate that public higher education could and must be accountable.

Mr. President, serving in a public state university is a privilege for me. Following World War II, we witnessed one of the great educational revolutions in world history - the establishment of the GI Bill that sent tens of thousands of men and women to colleges and universities who otherwise would not have or could not have attended a post secondary educational institution. We saw an explosion of state universities in the 1960's to serve this new population. This transformed our society not only economically but, politically and socially as well. Now we are called upon to provide the same service - educate men and women ready and able to keep this country competitive economically, and to preserve this great experiment in democracy.

We protect the great American dream by providing access and educational opportunities for men and women. In the best tradition of public higher education in America, we feed both the economic engines of society and provide a constant stream of educated men and women ready to defend the great principles of democracy. We now have a way to judge our excellence - the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award. I proudly accept this on behalf of a great university and I thank you, Mr. President, for recognizing how important this is to our future.

Created July 12, 2010, Updated December 10, 2019