The Fight for Baldrige–What's Next?

Well, it’s come to this.

On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science voted to zero out for the Baldrige Program for fiscal year 2012. Yes, I’m disappointed. It’s likely thought that Congress will not pass a budget and resort to a continuing resolution. It’s already on the floor and could extent funding for Baldrige.

But this really shouldn’t be such uphill work As I said in ASQ’s public statement, Congress should be shining a light on Baldrige recipients and point with pride to their accomplishments as an example of what the best can do. Baldrige recipients are creating jobs, saving lives and enriching students. It’s discouraging that the Subcommittee apparently doesn’t understand how valuable the government’s role has been. In these challenging times, model programs — like Baldrige — should be showcased, not eliminated.

It’s a time when you’d think the government would want to point to the successes of America’s best – it’s hard to understand why they would target a $10M savings. I’d like to think our lawmakers are making enlightened choices, but I fear they really don’t understand what Baldrige is and does and how it could be leveraged to address our country’s challenges. I’m disappointed, too, that the quality community did not raise their voices very loudly. Or loudly enough. Nobody said, “Look, apply the Baldrige criteria to one federal agency for three years and you create enough savings to fund the Baldrige Program for the next century.”

The Baldrige Program has been recognized as a model public-private partnership. Taxpayers have a vested interest in the improved performance of schools, the improved performance of healthcare facilities, and the increased competitiveness of companies nationwide. An independent economic study of the Baldrige program conservatively estimated a 250-to-1 return on the government’s investment, providing nearly $25 billion in benefits to the economy. I don’t know what could resonate more in today’s economy.

But I’m not giving up. Neither are the many Baldrige supporters, examiners and past recipients, the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, or the State Alliance for Performance Excellence. They get it. Heck, the AARP has joined the effort, along with the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Association of School Administrators. It’s clear we have more work to do in educating Congress of the program’s value.

And we need you to raise your voice—louder please. Louder.

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4 Responses to The Fight for Baldrige–What's Next?

  1. tom gilmore says:

    I wonder who funds the Deming. As I recall it was JUSE. Why do we need the government to give this award. Why can’t ASQ do it in collaboration with IEEE, ASME, PMI? Seems like unnecessary bureaucracy to me. As I recall when FPL won the Deming they paid all the expense. The USGov paid nothing. How many full time cubicle occupying, first class travelling bureaucrats live off this award which is far less prestigious than the Deming? 10 million bucks sounds like lots of nice meals and hotels. How many companies that won the Deming prize routinely and by policy violate Deming’s 14 principles of management?

  2. Tom: You are right the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers is the source of the Deming Prize, and companies, not the government pay for it. I don’t know the details of FPL (Florida Power and Light) expenses related to receiving the award in 1989. I do know that the CEO of FPL at the time -John Hudiburg -testified before Congress on the importance of having a National Quality Award, which led to the legislation. He was also instrumental in the formulation of the award program. There is private sector funding of the program. The Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award helps underwrite the program from a private sector endowment. There are also fees that applicants pay including the cost of site visits. The examiners donate thousands and thousands of hours in support of the program.

    I can’t response to your other questions. My appreciation of the people who support the award program is much different than yours. I suspect you haven’t witnessed their efforts firsthand.

    I look at the value of the program. I look at the achievements of the recipients. Schools, hospitals, cities, small and large businesses. I look at the jobs that are being created or sustained. I look at economic studies that say tax payers got a 207:1 return on their investment. I look at the best practices that are freeing shared by the recipients for the rest of us to emulate. I see results. Results this country desperately needs. I see hundreds of thousands of downloads of the Baldrige Criteria being used to stimulate economic growth in our great nation. $10M is a bargain.

    There’s lots of “what’s wrong with our country,” the recipients represent organizations committed to “what’s right.” Perfect? No. Isolated from the rest of the forces of change in our world? No. Let’s celebrate what’s right. Let’s raise our voices and ask for more. The Baldrige program puts organizations on the journey. It doesn’t guarantee greatness but it certainly stacks the odds.

  3. Charles T. says:

    Tom: I seem to agree with you to certain extend that the Baldrige Award should be privately sustained. Its been around long enough that it should have created some endowment fund program through the past recipients and ASQ to support it self. Malcolm Baldrige himself becuase he was associated with Bill Clintons admnistration was able to get the government support for the program in beginning – nothing wrong with that. Things have changed and this is a time of economic downturn and every government is trying to come up with cuts in spending. I know government is very wasteful in many other ways but the lesson has to start from some where.

    Paul: I really do not want to see the Baldrige Award go so can there be some 3-5 year plan to slowly weaned it from the government support? Is that an option?



  4. Naresh Choudhary says:

    My personal views-
    Even now, it may not be late for the government to seek help from the industry, especially past winners of the award and also increase the “application fees” to a higher amount so the applicants could fund the cost of conduct and the hours and hours that examiners put in for the award.

    The award still needs to be under government monitoring to ensure there is no influence from the corporates if it were to be purely corporates funding the award program.

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