The Baldrige Award is given by the President of the United States to businesses—manufacturing and service, small and large—and to education and health care organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management, and business results.
Congress established the award program in 1987 to recognize U.S. organizations for their achievements in quality and performance and to raise awareness about the importance of quality and performance excellence as a competitive edge. The award is not given for specific products or services. Three awards may be given annually in each of these categories: manufacturing, service, small business and, starting in 1999, education and health care.
While the Baldrige Award and the Baldrige recipients are the very visible centerpiece of the U.S. quality movement, a broader national quality program has evolved around the award and its criteria. A report, Building on Baldrige: American Quality for the 21st Century, by the private Council on Competitiveness, said, “More than any other program, the Baldrige Quality Award is responsible for making quality a national priority and disseminating best practices across the United States.”
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages the Baldrige National Quality Program in close cooperation with the private sector.