CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 Adds “Community” as 7th Category of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards

“Congress has now affirmed the important role of communities and the fundamental truth that ‘For America to sustain its vitality, promote opportunity and create a more equitable society during its second 250 years of existence, we must improve the performance of communities and the people who lead and live in them.’ Helping fulfill that vision will be our focus and our work for many years to come.”

Lowell C. Kruse, Chair and Co-Founder, Communities of Excellence 2026

According to a press release issued by Stephanie Norling, the  Executive Director of Communities of Excellence 2026 earlier today, President Biden has today, August 9th, 2022, signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which, among a few very noteworthy achievements, also authorized “Community” becoming the seventh category of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards. The landmark bill authorizes American communities who are making systematic efforts to improve community performance to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, with the winners receiving presidential recognition.  The new bill allows for communities to now join American businesses and nonprofit organizations to be recognized for the successful application of continual improvement initiatives to improve outcomes, in this case, impacting health & wellness, access to and quality of education, economic progress, and overall quality of life.

Of course, most people are lauding the bill for several other achievements, as the landmark bill provides $52.7 billion in subsidies for US semiconductor production and research and boosts efforts to make the US more competitive with China’s science and technology efforts, but we can’t resist the opportunity to highlight how Baldrige became a part of the groundbreaking achievement to bolster the US economy.

“The future is going to be made in America,” Biden said, calling the measure “a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself.”

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award – given annually to those assessed and having been found to effectively follow the framework – was established by Congress to promote improved quality of goods and services in U.S. companies and organizations. The goal of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987 (Public Law 100-107) was to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. Its scope has since been expanded to health care and educational organizations (in 1999) and to nonprofit/government organizations (in 2007).

Congress created the Award Program to:

  • Identify and recognize role-model businesses
  • Establish a criteria for evaluating improvement efforts
  • Disseminate and share best practices.

“American business and industry are beginning to understand that poor quality costs companies as much as 20 percent of sales and revenues nationally, and that improved quality of goods and services goes hand in hand with improved productivity, lower costs, and increased profitability.”

— Public Law 100-107, August 20, 1987

Behind the scenes, the Baldrige framework has consistently evolved to broaden its reach into multiple industries and sectors, touching more and more types of American organizations to successfully incorporate continual improvement principles in nearly any setting, increasing quality of output, productivity, competitiveness, economic vitality, and quality of life.  Since 2013, the nonprofit organization Communities of Excellence 2026 (COE 2026) led an initiative to bring communities together from across the nation to participate in a pilot program using the Baldrige Excellence Framework – a Framework that was originally developed for the manufacturing, service and small business sectors but now is seeing such wide and successful usage that it is being employed to improve how communities are being run and allowing for excellent communities to shine as a benchmark for the nation.

Following the press release, The Baldrige Foundation, which provides organizational and administrative support to Communities of Excellence 2026 and is the sole sponsor of the COE Criteria and Framework, reported today on the news to celebrate the inclusion, which they have tirelessly vied for throughout the years’ long initiative.  Their reporting included this noteworthy statement from Tommy Gonzalez, City Manager of El Paso, Texas, who formerly led the City of Irving, Texas to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award using the Nonprofit Criteria in 2012 and who currently serves as a Board Member for Communities of Excellence 2026,

“Engaging multiple organizations can take communities to the next level in the pursuit of excellence for the communities they serve. The City of El Paso has a history of collaboration that is rooted in growing opportunities and service excellence in our organization, and for our community. Through our award-winning Communities of Excellence (COE) efforts, we work collaboratively with over 40 organizations across our community, achieving better results, improving services, and changing people’s lives. Future Baldrige award-winning communities will serve as role models for others, spreading the possibilities created by the Baldrige model in ways not possible before.”

(The Baldrige Foundation, 2022)

The jubilation can be felt in the Foundation’s statements in the Communities of Excellence 2026 press release:

“The Baldrige Foundation is excited and proud to support this next great evolution of the Baldrige Framework…The Baldrige Foundation provides administrative support for COE 2026, is the sole sponsor of the COE Criteria and Framework and worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to promote “community” as the seventh category of the Baldrige Awards”

– Al Faber, President and CEO of the Baldrige Foundation

As of the time of writing, NIST has yet to comment on the news either on their main website or their Baldrige blog, but, perhaps a bit ironically, did post today the article Baldrige Framework Revisions Aim to Keep Criteria on the Leading Edge, an article written by Dawn Bailey that covers the process of updating and simplifying the Baldrige criteria and recent efforts to solicit input in the improvement of the Framework.  We can update this article as NIST makes comment or more information becomes available.

The entire press release can be read HERE.

At Isometric Consulting, we are very supportive of the proliferation of the Baldrige Framework to various sectors throughout the country and the spread of continual improvement principles into every type of American organization, being tailor-made to help every type of organization strive for excellence.  We are pleased to see the Framework maintain such a high level of relevance – its continual evolution and ability to impact every facet of American life is truly inspiring.


The Baldrige Foundation. (2022, August 9). Congress Adds “Community” as the 7th Category of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards. Baldrige Foundation. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from