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Quality Digest


Baldrige Award Process Suspended for 2022, Pending Review

Review will assess how program can best advance U.S. competitiveness and address today’s business challenges

Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 12:04

In an open letter, Bob Fangmeyer, director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, wrote that the Baldridge Award process would be suspended this year. The reasons and future plans are outlined in the letter shown below. In a separate email to Quality Digest, Fangmeyer added that “the award process is being paused for 2022 while we engage in a comprehensive external program review that builds on our own change initiatives. The objective is to reinvigorate the program and the award, not eliminate it. All other [Baldrige Program] offerings continue.”

Dear Friend of Baldrige,

I am writing today to provide an important update on the status of the 2022 Baldrige Award process.

Over the past year, the leadership teams at Baldrige, NIST, and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce have been discussing the current status of the Baldrige Program and whether it is having the desired impact. After much deliberation and consideration of multiple factors, including participation data over the past several years, we have collectively decided to initiate a comprehensive, independent review of the Baldrige Program. This review will assess how the program can best advance U.S. competitiveness and address the challenges most relevant in today’s business environment, as well as examine how its impact and accessibility could be increased.

Therefore, the program will not run an award process in 2022. We sincerely regret the inconvenience and hardship this might cause award applicants, examiners and judges, the consultant community, ASQ, Alliance programs, and other key program stakeholders. Applicants will be offered a full refund or the opportunity to be evaluated for feedback only at a reduced fee.

As a program and a community, we have been well aware of the challenges we are facing. And as you know, in recent years we have worked collaboratively with our stakeholders to both streamline the evaluation process and increase the value for applicant organizations. Additionally, in December 2021, the Baldrige Board of Overseers requested that we convene a broad group of Baldrige customers and other stakeholders to review our award process. The group was asked to make recommendations that would lower barriers to entry and encourage greater participation, particularly by organizations in the manufacturing and service sectors. This group has been hard at work, and we look forward to its recommendations for improvement, which are due in June 2022.

We plan to build upon this work and to also take into consideration the recommendations and input of others in the Baldrige community as part of an independent assessment of the Baldrige Program. The output of this process will inform how the program can best be positioned for maximal future impact to our nation.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, we will work closely with all our stakeholders to get input and share information.

Thank you for the tremendous support you’ve already provided—and your engagement as we move forward.

With deepest gratitude,

Bob Fangmeyer, Director

For more information read 2022 Baldrige Program Review and Award Process Suspension FAQ’s.


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.


Baldrige demise

I was involved with the award from the beginning at APQC after the special "If Japan Can Why Can't We?".  I served as an examiner early on, but was not involved later because, as a consultant, I was persona non grata. Later I served as a Senior Examiner for the Missouri Quality Award.  Some states continued to emphasize quality and an award.

President Reagan had a vision for the US to be a quality leader.  He supported it with full backing of the government.  Each subesequent President put less and less emphasis on the award while most major countries in the world continued to emphasize it.  In 2009 the goverment stopped supporting the award as a "cost cutting" measure.  No wonder it lost visibility.  ASQ only provided excuses for not pushing the award back into prominence.  As a keynote speaker at the China International Industries Conference for 4 years (2017-2021), I learned much from China's leaders who accompanied me as keynote speakers.  One talk outlined that the Communist Party Congress devoted a whole session to quality with the objective to surpass Japan in the marketplace with quality products and services.  Additionally, my paricipation as a lecturer in India, I found that the MBNQA criteria are used by major companies in India.  Interestingly, 6 companies in India have won the covented Deming Prize in recent years.

Recently, I recieved a defective product from an online order.  There is no way to file a complaint that doesn't fit their pre-designed webpage.  The defect doesn't fit any of their definitions.  What about the ridiculous time spent listening to automated attendants in an attempt to complete a call (if a phone number is even provided).  The 5-star system that punishes employees if they don't get customers to give a 5-star rating for poor quality over which employees have no control.  Then, after begging for a 5-star rating to not get their pay reduced, that 5-star rating goes up on the web page for the company.

These examples are the result of the lack of emphasis on quality...the award was "costing taxpayers" too much.