Baldrige Gold

What is Baldrige?

The Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s mission is to improve the competitiveness and performance of U.S. organizations through organizational assessment and development for the benefit of all U.S. residents. The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is a customer-focused federal change agent that develops and disseminates evaluation criteria, manages the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, promotes performance excellence and provides global leadership in the learning and sharing of successful strategies and performance practices, principles, and methodologies. 


In the mid-1980s, U.S. leaders realized that American companies needed to focus on quality in order to compete in an ever- expanding, demanding global market. Then-Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige was an advocate of  organizational assessment and quality management as a key to U.S. prosperity and sustainability. After he died in a rodeo accident in July 1987, Congress named the Award in recognition of his contributions.

Congress created the Award Program to:

  • identify and recognize role-model businesses
  • establish criteria for evaluating improvement efforts
  • disseminate and share best practices 

What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that
a U.S. organization can receive. Congress established the Baldrige Program in 1987 to recognize U.S. companies for their achievements in quality and business performance and to raise awareness about the importance of quality and perfor- mance excellence in gaining a competitive edge. Congress originally authorized the Baldrige Award to include manufactur- ing, service, and small business organizations; Congress expanded eligibility to education and health care organizations in 1998. Nonprofit organizations, including government agencies, became eligible for the award in 2007. A total of 18 awards may be given annually across the six categories—manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care, and nonprofit. Within the overall limit of 18, there is no limit on awards in individual categories. To receive the Baldrige Award, an organization must have a role-model organizational management system that ensures continuous improvement in

the delivery of products and/or services, demonstrates efficient and effective operations, and provides a way of engaging and responding to customers and other stakeholders. The award is not given for specific products or services. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence provide a framework that any organization can use to improve overall performance. The Criteria are organized into seven categories: Leadership; Strategic Planning; Customer Focus; Measurement, Analysis, and

Knowledge Management; Workforce Focus; Operations Focus; and Results. 

What are the Baldrige assessment criteria?

The Baldrige performance excellence criteria are a framework that any organization can use to improve overall perfor- mance. Seven categories make up the award criteria:

  • Leadership—Examines how senior executives guide the organization and how the organization addresses its responsibilities to the public and practices good citizenship.
  • Strategic planning—Examines how the organization sets strategic directions and how it determines key action plans.
  • Customer focus—Examines how the organization determines requirements and expectations of customers and markets; builds relationships with customers; and acquires, satisfies, and retains customers.
  • Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management—Examines the management, effective use, analysis, and improvement of data and information to support key organization processes and the organization’s performance management system.
  • Workforce focus—Examines how the organization enables its workforce to develop its full potential and how the workforce is aligned with the organization’s objectives.
  • Process management—Examines aspects of how key production/delivery and support processes are designed, managed, and improved.
  • Results—Examines the organization’s performance and improvement in its key business areas: customer satisfaction, financial and marketplace performance, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operational performance, and governance and social responsibility. The category also examines how the organization performs relative to competitors.

The criteria are used by thousands of organizations of all kinds for self-assessment and training and as a tool to develop performance and business processes. Several million copies have been distributed since the first edition in 1988, and heavy reproduction and electronic access multiply that number many times.

For many organizations, using the Baldrige assessment criteria results in better employee relations, higher productivity, greater customer satisfaction, increased market share, and improved profitability. According to a report by the Conference Board, a busi- ness membership organization, “A majority of large U.S. firms have used the criteria of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for self-improvement, and the evidence suggests a long-term link between use of the Baldrige criteria and improved business performance.” 

Which organizations have received the award?

2009—Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, MidwayUSA, AtlantiCare, Heartland Health, VA Cooperative Studies Program Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center

2008—Cargill Corn Milling North America, Poudre Valley Health System, and Iredell-Statesville Schools

2007—PRO-TEC Coating Co., Mercy Health Systems, Sharp HealthCare, City of Coral Springs, and U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering (ARDEC)

2006—Premier, Inc. MESA Products Inc., and North Mississippi Medical Center

2005—Sunny Fresh Foods Inc., DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations, Park Place Lexus, Jenks Public Schools, Richland College, and Bronson Methodist Hospital

2004—The Bama Companies, Texas Nameplate Company Inc., Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton

2003—Medrad Inc., Boeing Aerospace Support, Caterpillar Financial Services Corp., Stoner Inc., Community Consolidat ed School District 15, Baptist Hospital Inc., and Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City

2002—Motorola Inc. Commercial, Government and Industrial Solutions Sector, Branch Smith Printing Division, and SSM Health Care

2001—Clarke American Checks Inc., Pal’s Sudden Service, Chugach School District, Pearl River School District, and Uni versity of Wisconsin-Stout

2000—Dana Corp.-Spicer Driveshaft Division, KARLEE Company Inc., Operations Management International Inc., and Los Alamos National Bank

1999—STMicroelectronics Inc.-Region Americas, BI, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. L.L.C., and Sunny Fresh Foods

1998—Boeing Airlift and Tanker Programs, Solar Turbines Inc., and Texas Nameplate Co. Inc.

1997—3M Dental Products Division, Solectron Corp., Merrill Lynch Credit Corp., and Xerox Business Services

1996—ADAC Laboratories, Dana Commercial Credit Corp., Custom Research Inc., and Trident Precision Manufacturing, Inc.

1995—Armstrong World Industries Building Products Operation and Corning Telecommunications Products Division

1994—AT&T Consumer Communications Services, GTE Directories Corp., and Wainwright Industries Inc.

1993—Eastman Chemical Co. and Ames Rubber Corp.

1992—AT&T Network Systems Group/ Transmission Systems Business Unit, Texas Instruments Inc. Defense Systems & Electronics Group, AT&T Universal Card Services, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., and Granite Rock Co.

1991—Solectron Corp., Zytec Corp., and Marlow Industries

1990—Cadillac Motor Car Division, IBM Rochester, Federal Express Corp., and Wallace Co. Inc.

1989—Milliken & Co. and Xerox Corp. Business Products and Systems

1988—Motorola Inc., Commercial Nuclear Fuel Division of Westinghouse Electric Corp., and Globe Metallurgical Inc. 

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