As a direct result of multiple business scandals that have thrown corporate America into turmoil over the past two years, sponsors of the 2003 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award have revised the qualification criteria to emphasize corporate governance and ethics. The prestigious award, sponsored by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology, annually honors businesses that have demonstrated excellent performance. Since 1987, when it was instituted, 46 companies have received the award. "For America to have a strong economy, we need sound businesses with ethical, responsible leaders," said Commerce Secretary Don Evans in announcing the criteria.
Businesses that vie for the award are measured in seven categories: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management and business results. In the leadership category, applicants must explain how the organization's governance system ensures management and fiscal accountability and independence in audits while protecting stock holder and stakeholder interests. In the results category, the 2003 criteria require organizations to provide evidence of fiscal accountability, ethical behavior, legal compliance and organizational citizenship. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are available in editions for business, education and health care at www.baldrige.nist.gov or by calling (301) 975-2036.