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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