By law, the Baldrige Award is open to any U.S. organization or subunit or to any U.S. subunit of foreign organizations. Organizations must meet eligibility requirements in one of six categories:
- Small Business
Applying for the Baldrige Award is a two-step process. The first step is the submission of an Eligibility Certification Package, usually due in March or April. The second step is submission of the Award Application Package, which is typically due in May. Complete instructions for both steps can be found in the Baldrige Award Application Forms.
Members of the Board of Examiners review and evaluate the application. Examiners are volunteers who are screened by the Baldrige program and trained in the evaluation process.
The review process follows up to four stages:
- Independent review by at least six examiners. If your score is low, the examiners’ evaluations will be consolidated into a feedback report with strengths and opportunities for improvement and sent to you.
- Consensus review. If you exceed the score set by the Panel of Judges, a team of examiners discusses each Item during a teleconference to agree upon strengths, opportunities for improvement, and a score. If your consensus score does not meet the next threshold set by the Panel of Judges, you will receive a feedback report based on the consensus review.
- Site visit. Applicants that score well receive a site visit from a team of examiners. The team clarifies and verifies the contents of your application and provide a site visit report to the Panel of Judges.
- Judges’ review. The Panel of Judges convenes to discuss each organization that received a site visit and to identify which applicants, if any, they recommend to receive the Award. The Department of Commerce has final say on the actual recipients, which are subject to background checks to make sure they would be fitting role models for the Award. The examiner team that made the site visit produces a feedback report that is sent to the applicant.
Up to 18 awards may be given across the six eligibility categories each year. The most awards presented were seven in 2003. Seventy-five organizations received Baldrige Awards from 1988 to 2008 including four two-time winners: Solectron, Sunny Fresh Foods, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and Texas Nameplate Company. A complete list of Baldrige Award recipients can be found here.