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Raissa Carey

Quality Insider

Fate of Baldrige Program Still Uncertain

President Obama and his economic team to examine the proposals closely

Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 15:01

Update: In a most recent contact with ASQ, the association said it would not initiate a grassroots campaign.  “From what ASQ knows, the commission's proposal is dead and the Baldrige Program is safe for now. We will continue to be vigilant in the coming year to make sure that the president and Congress don't take the commission co-chair's advice during the budget and appropriations process.”

ASQ says it always encourages its members to send them their comments.

Quality Digest Daily recently reported that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRR) suggested, as one of the recommendations to reduce the nation’s debt, the elimination of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

Commission members voted on the report and its recommendations on Friday, Dec. 3.  If 14 of the 18 commission members approved the recommendations, they would then be formally sent to Congress for consideration as legislation. Support for the plan fell three votes short.

Among the 11 supporters of the plan, there were five Democrats and five Republicans, along with an independent—Ann M. Fudge, The New York Times reported. Three House Republicans on the panel, all of whom will hold key positions in the new Congress, rejected the plan.

But despite the “technical” defeat, the suggestion for eliminating the Baldrige Program is still on the table. The cost-cutting package is set to take effect in 2012.

“The Commission’s majority report includes a number of specific proposals that I—along with my economic team—will study closely in the coming weeks as we develop our budget and our priorities for the coming year,” President Obama said in a statement as he praised the committee for its important and challenging work. He didn’t support any particular suggestion from the report.

“Overall, my goal is to build on the steps we’ve already taken to reduce our deficit, like slowing the growth of health care costs, proposing a three-year freeze in nonsecurity discretionary spending and a two-year pay freeze for federal civilian workers, and restoring the rule that we pay for all of our priorities,” the President added.

Meanwhile, the quality community awaits and tries to formulate a strategy to contest the NCFRR suggestion. The American Society for Quality is currently working with Sellery Associates, the association’s strategists in Washington, and may initiate grassroots campaign.

The general consensus among quality professionals is that they agree on the need to eliminate waste and save money, but most agree that waste reduction and performance improvement are one of the main goals of Baldrige. In the long term, the termination of the program would be a loss to the productivity and economic well-being of the country.

“I have not measured how much each hospital ultimately saves each year of its Baldrige journey,” says Douglas Dotan, a Quality Digest Daily reader in a letter to the editors. “But I know it is at least a factor of 10, if not more than the government’s cost for sponsoring the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Health care costs are more than $1.2 trillion and growing. An incremental improvement of 1 percent in the nation’s hospital operational costs is equal to $12 billion—that’s what it will potentially cost our nation if the government eliminates the Baldrige Award.”


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Raissa Carey’s picture

Raissa Carey


Federal Sponsorship of Baldrige

The criteria for performance excellence are a great tool for improving the performance of any organization. I have used the tools to improve organizations. I am a fan. The criteria and the awards program should continue. Period. Full Stop.

An entirely different discussion is whether the federal government should pay for the program. Just because something should be done doesn't mean that government should be doing it.

How much are we talking about anyway? According to the NIST site "The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is a government and industry partnership, with over 90% of the support, including in-kind contributions, provided by the private sector. The federal government’s contribution to this Program is about $8 million annually and is used by NIST to manage the Program. ....In addition, the private Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has raised an endowment currently valued at approximately $17 million."

Sounds like we've got about an $80 million program, with $72 million covered by the private sector. And an endowment.

If these published numbers are correct, then with resources like that, an equally valid question is why the federal government is subsidizing the program?

Eliminating the subsidy is not the same as eliminating the program.

Fate of Baldrige Program Still Uncertain

We all must be fiscal responsible, I think that the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program should be remove from any government sponsorship and/or cost.

If the Baldrige Program is valuable why is govt subsidy needed?

If we all take the attitude that government spending needs to be reduced but just not "our" program, the inefficient government will continue to grab more of our paychecks. How much of our tax dollars are currently used for managing the Baldrige Program? Do we really need the government involved? Since we all expect the quality improvements to save money for the companies in the long run, how can we make this self-sustaining? If the participating companies don't find the changes valuable why should taxpayers be asked to subsidize this?

Support of Quality at the National Level

This country needs to formally support the efforts of companies and organizations to deliver quality products and services and to continually improve. If the government applied the principles of Baldridge to their own processes, the result would be the elimination of major waste and delivery of government that meets or exceeds the requirements of their customers. (the citizens of the United States) I would be willing to guess that that cost saving would be much larger than the proposals to cut programs.