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Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award FAQs

What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) is a presidential award that is presented annually to organizations that demonstrate the highest levels of quality and performance excellence. Awards may be presented in six different categories:

  • Manufacturing
  • Service company
  • Small business
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Nonprofit and Government

The Baldrige Award, established by Congress in 1987, was designed to raise awareness of quality management and recognize US companies that have implemented successful quality management systems. The US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages the award.


How does the national Baldrige program relate to a state level program?

NCAfE is a member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the growth and sustainability of Baldrige-focused programs by serving its members. Key stakeholders include Baldrige focused programs, organizations wanting to improve, and key partners including the Baldrige Foundation and the national Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. The Baldrige Program administers the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.


How do we apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?

Organizations that receive the top performance excellence award from NCAfE are eligible to apply for the national Baldrige Award during the following year’s awards cycle.


What are the Baldrige Criteria?

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence includes:

  1. Leadership: How upper management leads the organization, and how the organization leads within the community.
  2. Strategy: How the organization establishes and implements its strategy.
  3. Customers: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers.
  4. Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance.
  5. Workforce: How the organization supports and engages its workforce.
  6. Operations: How the organization designs, manages and improves key work processes to deliver value to customers.
  7. Results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction with products and services, workforce engagement, leadership and governance, finances, and how the organization compares to its competitors.


How are Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients selected?

The process for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is very similar to the NCAfE state excellence award. Steps include:

Independent and Consensus Review
A team from the Board of Examiners is assigned to your award application.

Independent Review: Members of the team individually review your application against the Criteria for Performance Excellence to identify and document strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Consensus Review: Led by a senior examiner, the team conducts a series of reviews, first virtually through a secure website and then through focused conference calls. Through these reviews, the team reaches consensus on feedback and scores. Based on these reviews, the Judges’ Panel determines which organizations receive site visits.

Site Visit Review
Organizations receiving site visits provide updates for all results in the application. Led by a senior examiner, a team of examiners visits the organization to verify and clarify the information in the application. Site visits consist primarily of a review of pertinent records and data, as well as interviews. The team submits a report to the Judges’ Panel.

Judges’ Review
The Judges’ Panel conducts final reviews and recommends award recipients to the director of NIST, who conveys the recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce. The Commerce Secretary and the NIST Director determine whether recommended award recipients are appropriate role models and should receive the award. The purpose of this determination is to help preserve the award’s integrity. The Judges’ Panel also recommends non-award-recipient organizations that will be recognized for having one or more category best practices. In determining role models, NIST checks records on site-visited applicants and their highest-ranking officials to verify compliance with legal and various regulatory requirements. The Commerce Secretary then selects the award recipients.

Feedback Reports
Members of the Board of Examiners prepare feedback reports detailing organization-specific strengths and opportunities for improvement based on the organization’s responses to the Criteria for Performance Excellence. Each organization receives a feedback report when it exits the process: after Consensus Review, after Site Visit Review, or when it is selected as an award recipient.

Award Ceremony
The President of the United States traditionally presents the awards.


Who are some of the past North Carolina winners?

Iredell-Statesville Schools, 2008
Premier Inc. 2006


May an organization hire a consultant or advisor to help prepare answers for the Baldrige application?

NCAfE does not make any recommendations about the use of third-party advisors or award application consultants. However, we are aware that some organizations find it beneficial to work with consultants to understand and apply the Baldrige framework to their own operations.


Beyond NCAfE

Supplying Volunteer Examiners
The Board of Examiners works best when there is a healthy balance of new and experienced examiners, so we encourage organizations to send us examiners who have served in the past, in addition to those who are new to the program. Many examiners return year after year, because they find their service to the Baldrige Awards Program an unparallelled professional development experience, as well as an opportunity to benchmark and network. To help maintain a robust and active workforce, we rely on award applicants to provide examiners for the next award cycle. Employers find that having examiners on staff enables them to integrate the Criteria’s improvement framework more quickly and accelerate the quest for excellence.