Washington-President George Bush and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans announced seven organizations as recipients of the 2003 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest honor for quality and performance excellence. This year is the first time that recipients were named in all five Baldrige Award categories and is the most Baldrige Award recipients since the program started in 1988.

The 2003 Baldrige Award recipients are:

• Medrad Inc. (Indianola, PA),


• Boeing Aerospace Support (St. Louis), service

• Caterpillar Financial Services Corp.

(Nashville, TN), service

• Stoner Inc. (Quarryville, PA), small


• Community Consolidated School

District 15 (Palatine, IL), education

• Baptist Hospital Inc. (Pensacola,

FL), health care

• Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City (Kansas City, MO), health care

"I am pleased to join President Bush in congratulating this year's recipients of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award," says Secretary Evans. "They represent America's best and are setting a high standard for corporate and social responsibility. Their dynamic, principled leadership has built our economy into the world's largest engine of progress and prosperity."

The 2003 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from among 68 applicants. All seven were evaluated by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management and results. The evaluation process included about 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by teams of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the applications.

"This recognition is so meaningful to the recipients because they know the evaluation for the Baldrige Award was objective and scrupulous in identifying performance excellence. Every step of the process is structured to apply the knowledge and expertise of the board of examiners in ensuring that only the most outstanding applicants are recognized," says Harry Reedy, chair of the Baldrige Award panel of judges.

Named after the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the quality and performance achievements of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award may be presented to five types of organizations: manufacturers, service companies, small businesses, education organizations and health care organizations. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 58 organizations have received the Baldrige Award.