Backing Baldrige

ASQ appears before Congress to make case against proposed funding cuts

For the first time in a decade, an ASQ president testified before Congress—this time to speak out against proposed funding cuts to the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

Appearing before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies last month, ASQ President E. David Spong described how President Obama’s proposed funding cuts to the program "would send an unfortunate and misguided signal if we eliminated a program or reduced a program that our government has supported for more than two decades as the model of performance excellence."

The Baldrige budget is currently at $9.6 million annually, based on the enacted 2010 budget. President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget represents a decrease of $2.2 million from his fiscal year 2011 request and a decrease of $1.9 million from fiscal year 2010 enacted appropriations.

In his testimony, Spong suggested lawmakers instead consider increasing federal funding for the program.

"The Baldrige program is a very strong example of an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars and has a long-term track record of excellent return on taxpayer investment for the greater good of the nation," he said. "The Baldrige program is far more than just an awards program; it’s a culture of performance excellence."

ASQ sponsors and provides administrative support to the Baldrige program.

NIST director testifies

In March, Patrick Gallagher, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a Commerce Department agency that manages the program, also appeared before another House panel—the science and technology subcommittee—to address the NIST budget.

Obama’s budget proposal also calls for a study next year to explore outside funding for the program, eventually transitioning the Baldrige program away from federal funding. NIST officials said they are planning to evaluate alternative sources of funding and alternative cost models.

"The administration strongly supports the Baldrige program and wants it to continue to thrive; however, a tough budget climate requires some difficult decisions," Gallagher said during a Q&A with QP before he testified. "The aim is not to change what the Baldrige program delivers, but rather to explore ways to maintain and grow the program’s reach, high level of service and value with little or no dependence on federal funding."

Gallagher’s and Spong’s appearances were part of the House’s annual appropriations process in which congressional leaders seek input on the proposed budget while they shape the House’s version of the bill.

ASQ last appeared before Congress in 2001 when then-President Tom Mosgaller testified before a Senate subcommittee about the need for ongoing training of the current and potential federal workforce. ASQ often submits testimony to House and Senate leaders as issues are debated in Washington, D.C. For example, in 2007, ASQ submitted commentary on various food safety issues to a congressional subcommittee.

To see the transcript of Spong’s submitted testimony and the complete Q&A with Gallagher, visit http://asq.org/qualityprogress/information/baldrige/index.htm.


Toyota Gets High Marks In Consumer Reports Rankings

Troubled by quality issues and product recalls during the last few years, Toyota got a publicity boost last month when three of its models were included in Consumer Reports’ top-10 rankings for 2011.

Toyota’s Prius won the top spot in the magazine’s green car group, the Sienna was named the best minivan, and the Rav4 was ranked the top small sport utility vehicle (SUV). The Ford Mustang was chosen as the top sporty car, and Hyundai’s Kia Sorento was rated the top family SUV.

Consumer Reports named Honda, Subaru and Toyota the top three automakers for the third year in a row, saying most of their vehicles do well in the magazine’s tests and were relatively trouble-free.

The magazine also touted the idea of buying used cars, pointing to many 2008 models that are relatively trouble-free.

A Consumer Reports survey showed that about 75% of the three-year-old vehicles were problem free today, as were two-thirds of five-year-old vehicles included in the survey.

Other brands and models in the magazine’s 2011 rankings included:

  • Ford: The carmarker was singled out for its new car reliability.
  • Hyundai: The Elantra kept its slot as top pick in the small car category.
  • Honda: The Fit was a top pick among budget cars, a new category. Honda also received the top spot in an overall report card comparing major carmakers. The report card ranks the automakers on expected reliability of cars and road tests of things such as handling, safety and fuel economy.
  • General Motors (GM): GM topped Consumer Reports’ list of pickup trucks, with the Chevy Avalanche. GM’s overall report card improved in road tests and reliability.
  • Chrysler: The automaker didn’t have any models among the 10 top picks and scored badly in the overall report card.

For more details on the results, visit www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/index.htm.

Who’s Who in Q

NAME: Sheldon Dummer.

RESIDENCE: Grayslake, IL.

EDUCATION: Master of sciences degree in operations and technology management from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

CURRENT JOB: Senior quality engineering specialist in the medical products division at Baxter Healthcare in Round Lake, IL.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: He has worked in the medical device industry for 31 years. Before that, he worked with motorcycles and fabricated outboard motors.

ASQ ACTIVITIES: Dummer is an ASQ certification review course instructor for ASQ Section 1212 in northeastern Illinois. He has served as section chair and on various section executive committee positions. Dummer has also participated in an ASQ certification item-writing workshop.

OTHER ACTIVITIES: Dummer mentors at-risk high school students and helped restart the Sea Scouts youth program in northern Illinois. Dummer has sailed since the early 1970s. He has raced in the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac 27 times, including twice on his own.

PUBLISHED WORKS: Coauthored "Assessing Pass/Fail Testing When There Are No Failures to Assess," Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry, June 1, 1997.

RECENT HONOR: Recognized as one of 11 ASQ members who hold 14 of 18 ASQ certifications.

FAMILY: Wife, Susan, daughter, Kendra, and two granddaughters, Kaylyn and Madison.

FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Sailing, reading, cooking and working on projects at home.

QUALITY QUOTE: Make sure enough time is spent up front to understand customers’ requirements; then take the time to thoroughly plan to achieve the requirements. The highest level of product quality is achieved when the design is finalized and documented. Perfect design transfer will, at best, maintain that level of quality.


Federal Agency Considers ASQ IT Assessment Tool

An agency of the Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing a web-based tool developed by ASQ that is intended for physician practices and hospitals to assess their IT systems to see how they measure up against Baldrige and meaningful use criteria.

The national coordinator for health information technology (HIT), David Blumenthal, M.D., and other members of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) continue to evaluate the assessment tool and determine next steps, with an eye on possibly implementing it on a national level. Blumenthal and the ONC have been leading a nationwide effort to modernize HIT and reduce health costs for the federal government during the next 10 years.

The tool—which is based on the Baldrige excellence model—could give healthcare providers a way to examine their current level of HIT, and offer ideas and process guidance to evolve it. In addition, the tool would allow health providers to measure themselves against the new federal criteria on meaningful use, which denotes how providers must show they’re using certified electronic health records (EHR) technology in ways that can be measured significantly in quality and in quantity.1

The tool also would give individual users a method to measure and report progress. Measures are based on the core Baldrige quality principles. If implemented nationally, HIT initiative leaders could eventually use the tool to monitor, measure and analyze progress of those organizations using the tool.

ASQ’s healthcare experts and technology leaders, along with CIOs from healthcare organizations who received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, developed the web-based tool. ASQ met with the Washington, D.C., officials several times during the past year to discuss the assessment and the role quality can play in the HIT initiative.

ASQ says the tool could be used by any type of healthcare provider—from small physician practices to large, multi-location healthcare systems.

"ASQ’s knowledge and innovation within healthcare, and understanding of quality management, can help to pave the way in our nation’s journey to use health IT to improve the quality of healthcare outcomes and reduce costs," said ASQ CEO Paul Borawski.  "ASQ is proud to contribute this technology to advance these worthy goals."


  1. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "Meaningful Use," www.cms.gov/ehrincentiveprograms/30_meaningful_use.asp.



The number of teams selected as finalists for the 26th annual International Team Excellence Awards. The teams will participate in live project presentations at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality Improvement May 16-18 in Pittsburgh. The teams’ project summaries can be found at http://wcqi.asq.org/index.html.

Watch for further coverage of the 2010 and 2011 award recipients in future editions of QP.


QP looks back on a person or event that made a difference in the history of quality.

April 7, 1761

Thomas Bayes, a mathematician and Presbyterian minister who developed a solution to the problem of inverse probability that was later named the Bayes’ theorem, died on this date. He is also the namesake for the terms "Bayesianism" and "Bayesian probability."

Bayes was born in 1702 and studied logic and theology at the University of Edinburgh. He wrote only a handful of works, and the one that offered the solution to inverse probability—Essay Toward Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances—was presented in a book published by a friend after Bayes died.

Essentially, Bayes’ theorem is a simple mathematical formula used to calculate conditional probabilities. It’s used today in a wide range of sectors, including marine biology and the development of "Bayesian spam-blockers" for e-mail systems as a method to understand how the probability of a theory is true when affected by a new piece of evidence.



Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey, and we post the results.

Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"What role do social media play as you gather customer feedback?"

  • We think it’s crucial to our feedback process. 47.3%
  • We don’t monitor it at all. 39.4%
  • We monitor it but don’t collect data. 13.2%

Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the most recent poll question:

"Where do you stand on the future of the Baldrige program?"

  • Federal funding should be cut.
  • Federal funding should be increased.
  • Federal funding should stay at current levels.
  • Fund it privately.
  • Get rid of the program entirely.

QR codes in QP

In this issue, you’ll notice quick response (QR) codes accompanying some articles—designed to allow quick access to online extras and supplementary content. To use these bar codes, you’ll need a smartphone (for example, iPhone, Blackberry or Android) with a QR reader or scanner application (many are free).

Frame the bar code within the scanner, and the application will automatically read the code. You’ll be automatically directed to the content on your phone’s web browser. Keep in mind, we will include the good old fashioned URL alongside any QR codes in the magazine so you can also access everything on your computer.


Father of Triple Bottom Line to Speak at SR Conference

John Elkington, considered by many to be the dean of the corporate responsibility movement and the creator of the triple bottom-line concept, is one of two keynote speakers at ASQ’s social responsibility (sR) conference June 16-17 in San Francisco.

Elkington spelled out his triple bottom-line concept and agenda in Cannibals With Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. In short, the concept refers to business and investors measuring performance against a new set of metrics—capturing economic, social and environmental value added (or destroyed) during the processes of wealth creation.1

He is a founding partner and executive chairman at Volans, an organization that works with entrepreneurs, businesses, investors and governments to develop and scale innovative solutions to financial, social and environmental challenges. He is also this year’s recipient of ASQ’s Spencer Hutchens Jr. Medal, which recognizes achievement in SR.

The conference’s second keynote speaker is Aron Cramer, president and CEO of Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), an organization dedicated to SR with more than 250 member companies.

BSR works with its members to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research and cross-sector collaboration. Cramer is co-author of Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World, which details corporate responsibility strategies that drive business success.

The SR event will allow attendees to share and exchange ideas on SR issues and the integration of quality methods. The conference also will provide insight about applying the new SR standard, ISO 26000:2010—Guidance on social responsibility.

For more information about the conference, visit http://asq.org/conferences/social-responsibility/index.html.


  1. www.johnelkington.com, "Ideas: Beyond the Triple Bottom Line," www.johnelkington.com/activities/ideas.asp.


THE SECOND EDITION of the International Standard ISO/IEC 17021 sets new requirements for the auditing of management systems and for auditor competence to increase the value of management system certification to public and private sector organizations worldwide. ISO/IEC 17021:2011—Conformity assessment—Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems is intended to increase trust in certificates issued attesting conformity to management system standards, such as ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 22000 (food safety management). For more information, visit www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=ref1396.

SUNPOWER CORP., a solar panel and solar power systems manufacturer, recently received a 2010 Philippines Quality Award for "significant progress in building sound processes." Surinder Bedi, Sunpower’s vice president of global quality and customer satisfaction, and Ralph Robinett, Sunpower’s managing director, accepted the award during an event in Malacañang in January. The award is patterned after the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and is the highest quality recognition in the Philippines.

THE NELAC INSTITUTE has recognized the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board/ACLASS as an accrediting organization for proficiency test (PT) providers that provide PT samples to laboratories under TNI’s National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP). For more information about ACLASS, visit www.aclasscorp.com. For more information about ANAB, visit www.anab.org.

THE NATIONAL ACADEMY of Engineering has launched a new website, called "Changing the Conversation," to improve the effectiveness and impact of communications to the public about engineering. Visit www.engineeringmessages.org to see case studies, reports and messaging recommendations about engineering.

MORE THAN 400 people attended ASQ’s recent Lean and Six Sigma Conference in Phoenix. This marks the second-largest crowd ASQ has drawn for the annual event since it began 11 years ago.

Word to The Wise

To educate newcomers and refresh practitioners and professionals, QP features a quality term and definition each month.

Supplier quality assurance

Confidence that a supplier’s product or service will fulfill its customers’ needs. This confidence is achieved by creating a relationship between the customer and supplier that ensures the product will be fit for use with minimal corrective action and inspection. According to Joseph M. Juran, nine primary activities are needed: define product and program quality requirements; evaluate alternative suppliers; select suppliers; conduct joint quality planning; cooperate with the supplier during the execution of the contract; obtain proof of conformance to requirements; certify qualified suppliers; conduct quality improvement programs as required; and create and use supplier quality ratings.

Source: "Quality Glossary," Quality Progress, June 2007, www.asq.org/quality-progress/2007/06/quality-tools/quality-glossary.html.

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