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By Richard D.

Young

THE BALDRIGE
QUALITY PROCESS
IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANIZATIONS
Globally, governments are constantly striving to keep abreast of an
ever-changing world. In the United States, more specifically, govern-
ments are faced with fluctuating economic and revenue circumstances,
rapidly changing citizen’s needs, and ever-increasing infrastructure
requirements.Like the challenges that U.S. businesses and industries
face, public sector organizations -- in order to be successful -- must
respond to these complex changes and needs with the greatest ef-
ficiency and effectiveness possible. To do this, they must focus on
excellence in every situation that is encountered through superior
management and organizational processes and practices.

USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH - PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE JUNE 2002 11
For well over a decade the Baldrige values, concepts and for quality improvement, Public Law 100-107 (the Malcolm
criteria have been a mainspring for achieving performance Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act) was passed in
excellence and productivity in American businesses, small 1987, which is intended to encourage organizations in the
or large. The Baldrige Quality Program has also provided U.S. to practice effective quality processes in the provision
the public sector with model self-assessment and improve- of goods and services. The Act also established a national
ment approaches. Using the Baldrige criteria, for instance, award program to:
public sector organizations have strengthened their leader-
ship structures, built workable and sensible organizational • Stimulate American companies to improve quality
and administrative strategies, focused their attention more and productivity;
carefully and astutely on their customers (viz., taxpayers • Recognize achievements in improving quality of goods
or the citizenry at-large), utilized data and information in and services and provide an example to others;
better ways, improved human resource management, and, • Establish guidelines and criteria that can be used by
perhaps most importantly, shifted from emphasis on simply business, industrial, and governmental organizations
effort to that of results. in evaluating quality improvement efforts; and,
In this article, the Baldrige Program will be discussed in • Provide specific guidance for other American orga-
order to discover what it is and how it can assist govern- nizations to learn how to achieve high quality and
ments do a better job. First, some essential background eminence (P. L. 100-107, Section 2, (8) A-D).
information on the National Baldrige Program will clarify As mandated by law, the national award program (or
what the program is all about and its impact on state quality BNQP) is administered by the National Institute of Standards
programs and those elsewhere. Second, a brief discussion and Technology (NIST), which is an agency of the Depart-
of “the Baldrige Payoff ” will give some insight into what an ment of Commerce’s unit of Technology Administration.
organization gets out of participation in the Baldrige process, NIST is established to assist U.S. industry through scientific
i.e., self-assessment, feedback, improvement, and recogni- research and related technological and engineering services.
tion. Third, a discussion of the core values and concepts To help administer the Baldrige Award Program, NIST also
will allow for an appreciative, hopefully more meaningful contracts with the American Society for Quality, a non-profit
understanding of the Baldrige process. These values and organization whose primary aim is to advance the principles
concepts are critical not only to grasping the Baldrige process and practices of quality improvement in the private sector,
and system, but also to instituting a genuine enthusiasm for government and academia (Fisher, pp. 7-9).
their utilization in public sector organizations. Fourth, the The Baldrige Award is given to successful applicants
Baldrige criteria themselves, the linchpins of organizational once a year by either the President or the Secretary of
and administrative excellence, will be discussed. The criteria, Commerce. Two awards may be given to companies that
according to the current director of the Baldrige National fall into one of three categories: manufacturing, service,
Quality Program, Harry Hertz, “can help one align resources, and small businesses. In 1999, two additional categories
improve communications, productivity and effectiveness, were introduced -- education and health. The education
and achieve strategic goals” (National Institute of Standards category includes, for example, elementary and secondary
and Technology, Memorandum, 2002). And finally, a few schools and school districts, colleges and universities, and
concluding remarks will, it is hoped by this author, spur technical schools. The awards are considered based on ap-
some of those in public service who are still uncertain of plication scores (world-class scores range normally from
the Baldrige process to reconsider and give it a try. 600 to under 1,000 points) in the meeting of seven criteria.
From a pool of more than 400 experts (Board of Examiners)
BACKGROUND from industry, educational organizations, government and
A few remarks about the Baldrige National Quality Program non-profit entities, applications are reviewed and feedback
(BNQP) will be helpful to those individuals who are not is provided, in the form of confidential written reports, to
familiar with it or whose knowledge of Baldrige is sparse each Baldrige applicant. High-scoring applicants are vis-
or merely anecdotal. ited on-site to verify application claims and clarify quality
First, the quality program is named after Malcolm Bald- processes and practices. Final award recommendations are
rige who was Secretary of Commerce for President Reagan. then made to the director of NIST.
Baldrige was secretary from 1981 until his accidental death The seven criteria used by the examiners in their assess-
in July of 1987. According to the BNQP, Malcolm Baldrige ments or evaluations (scoring) are the crux of the Baldrige
was an advocate of quality management and its various and Award process. These criteria will be discussed in detail
potential contributions to America’s economic success. In later in this article, but are briefly defined here for intro-
honor and as a memorial of Secretary Baldrige’s advocacy ductory purposes.

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1. Leadership. Looks at how senior management directs THE BALDRIGE PAYOFF
the organization and addresses public responsibili- The benefits of the Baldrige process do not consist simply
ties. of awards and state, regional, national or international
2. Strategic Planning. Examines how the organization fame and prestige. Only a few organizations have the will,
plans strategically for short- and long-term purposes knowledge, and resources to accomplish these eminent
and how action plans are put into place. feats. While these are of course important, the real payoff
3. Customer and Market Focus. Analyzes how customer of the Baldrige process is that organizations (including
requirements and expectations are pinpointed. public organizations) undergo a rigorous and systematic
4. Information and Analysis. Reviews how data and self-examination, learn where there are performance gaps
information are used to make performance determi- or what needs to be improved, and in fact, work vigor-
nations, organizational changes, and management ously and methodically to bring about positive change.
adjustments. The ultimate end is, therefore, for an organization(s) to
5. Human Resource Focus. Examines how employees explore, to see or grasp its “working status or condition,”
are empowered and work together to achieve com- and to improve within given time limits. If recognition in
mon goals. some form, especially external recognition, comes along,
6. Process Management. Examines principal managerial then this is great. Thus, the “Baldrige payoff,” so to speak,
processes and improvement techniques. consists of some meaningful degree of self-assessment,
7. Business Results. Scrutinizes the organization in feedback, improvement, and perhaps if an organization is
terms of customer satisfaction, performance among committed and resourceful, special recognition.
competitors, financial or fiduciary performance,
partnering, and overall operational results (NIST, Self-Assessment
2002, pp. 9-47). The Baldrige assessment process is the core or bottom
It should be noted that there have been very few ac- line for diagnosing the status of organizational health – its
tual winners of the Baldrige Award since its inception in performance, strong or weak, and where improvement
1988. Nevertheless, literally thousands of organizations opportunities may exist. The process is valuable for all
have benefited from the self-assessment criteria process types of organizations whether they be huge international
that the Baldrige program offers. According to NIST, two companies, small businesses, or governmental agencies.
million copies of the application or criteria process have Public sector agencies can benefit from self-assessment in
been distributed, not counting reproductions and free many ways. Using the Baldrige criteria, an agency needs
electronic access via the Web http://www.nist.gov ( http: to be, to the extent possible,
//www.nist.gov/public_affairs/factsheet/baldfaqs.htm ).
Currently 43 states, for example, have established similar One in which leaders [agency heads and top man-
Baldrige-type programs.1 South Carolina has its own award agement] strive for outstanding performance by
process that is consistent with the national Baldrige pro- aligning the whole organization—plans, people, and
cess. Called the South Carolina Governor’s Quality Award processes—with customer needs [service recipients,
(SCGQ), the aim of the SCGQ is to promote the utilization school children, taxpayers, legislators, businessmen,
of quality management, share successful strategies, foster etc.] (Hutton, 2000, p. xxii). (Note bracketed content
the self-assessment process, and recognize organizations added).
that demonstrate excellence. Beginning in 1995, award
To accomplish this organizations assess several areas
recipients have included several South Carolina businesses
that are key to successful institutions. They do this by ask-
and industries, including governmental entities – the S.C.
ing questions based on the Baldrige criteria. For example,
Department of Revenue (1996) and the S.C. Department
these include:
of Education (1997). (See http://www.scquality.com ).
• How are, in fact, departmental (or public agency) lead-
Internationally, approximately 60 quality award programs
ers providing purpose and direction to the organization?
exist. The Deming prize in Japan is one such program that
• How is the organization strategically thinking, plan-
is long-standing and highly respected. Others include the
ning and acting?
European Quality Award model, Hong Kong’s Quality for
• How is the organization focusing on customers and
Excellence and Prosperity, and the Australian Business
their needs and preferences?
Excellence Framework (Blazey, 2000, p. 365).
• How is the organization collecting data and informa-
tion and measuring performance?

USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH - PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE JUNE 2002 13
• How is the organization maximizing its human re- in Baldrige techniques, it is a good, well-written report,
sources? and a planned, well-done presentation to the leadership
• How are organizational processes assessed and made (or agency) management.
more efficient and effective? Key checkpoints for a successful report, for example,
• How are organizational results being achieved and include:
how do these results relate to leadership, strategic plan- • The report accurately portrays the data and informa-
ning, customer focus, performance measurement, human tion that the assessment team discovered.
resources, and organizational processes? (Hutton, 2000). • The report “zeros in” on what is significant.
Generally speaking, model approaches to the self-as- • The report findings that are related to perceptions are
sessment process follows these steps. First, leaders (public clearly distinguished from those that are facts (i.e., can be
agency heads and top management) must be engaged so documented).
that they comprehend Baldrige and commit to its methods. • Team members unanimously support the report and
This is done by pointing out how the Baldrige approach a strong consensus on key recommendations exists. (Hut-
will meet their needs and what their roles as leaders must ton, 2000, p. 192).
be. Next, it is normally suggested by Baldrige experts and In terms of the presentation of the feedback report,
practitioners that assessment teams (e.g., various and especially an agenda that allows for lively and open discus-
suitable agency personnel) be formed and then trained in sion, it is critical to getting “the message” clearly across
assessment methods and tactics. After this is completed, to organizational leadership. Specifically, it is of course
the next step is to gather data. This is done through the important to spend a few minutes telling organizational
careful examination of key documents and interviews to leaders the self-assessment’s goals and objectives. This re-
assess exactly how the organization is currently operating. view would also include a quick overview of the assessment
Once these data and information are analyzed, a report is process and the work that has been done by the assessment
prepared that identifies organizational strengths and weak- team. Next, presumably presented by the assessment team
nesses, where opportunities for improvement exist (as in members in some well-rehearsed fashion, the findings of
the form of concrete recommendations). With the report the report would be spelled out. This would generally
complete, it is then presented to organizational (public consume some time and permit in-depth discussion. Key
agency or office) leadership. The aim here is for organi- recommendations would then be presented and the as-
zational leaders to understand the findings, accept them, sessment team would proactively seek leaders’ responses.
and to take ownership. The subsequent step is to prioritize Some discussion would then ideally proceed as a reminder
which concerns or problems in the organization need to to leadership that, based on their thoughts, preferences and
be addressed, target them, and develop detailed action willingness (i.e., their reactions to the report), the next step
plans to resolve them within given timeframes. Finally, the to the Baldrige payoff is the planning and implementation
last step in the self-assessment process is to implement the of specific improvement steps.
action plans and ensure they are completed satisfactorily
(Hutton, 2000, pp. xxiii-xxiv). Improvement
Once the feedback report and presentation have been com-
Feedback pleted the next stage of the Baldrige payoff process involves
Feedback is important in this sense: It provides the organiza- developing highly specific improvement plans and monitor-
tion, particularly its leadership, with a written report that, ing (or often referred to as “follow-through”). While it is
at a minimum, highlights where the organization currently certainly gratifying to have completed the self-assessment
stands (in terms of performance), what are its strengths and and feedback report, still important work remains.
weaknesses, what is needed to improve the organization, Priorities must now be sorted out, that is to say, a
and what suggestions or recommendations may be viable consensus among leadership, with the help of the assess-
and appropriate. Crucial in the feedback, as conceived and ment team, must take place. What are the organization’s
intended by the Baldrige process, is getting the self-assess- (agency’s) priorities given the self-assessment and feedback
ment findings across or understood by the organization’s report? And how can these specifically be translated into
(public agency’s) leadership, the suggestions or recom- improvement plans for which specific individuals are re-
mendations genuinely considered and discussed by leaders, sponsible?
and some kind of commitment by leaders to proceed with Practically speaking, Baldrige experts argue this de-
improvement steps, i.e., their implementation. termination (or answers to these questions) can be best
How is successful feedback achieved? According to made in a workshop setting. Organizational leaders and
those familiar with Baldrige self-assessment and experts assessment team players discuss, review, debate and select

14 JUNE 2002 PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE - USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH
priorities and then outline improvement plans. These plans instills a sense of accomplishment and significance in all
usually consist of the following components: work-related functions and areas. Organizational leaders
or management recognize the spirit and willingness of em-
• Name of the project or program; ployees to improve performance practices and capabilities,
• Objective(s); to facilitate communication, and create value and quality
• Measurement(s) of success; for their customers or constituencies. All in all, recognition
• Key Deliverables, main tasks, and milestones; is internalized or felt by the “people who are involved lead-
• Methods or approaches to be utilized; ing change—‘change agents’—who make an impact, take
• Participants or responsibilities (sponsor or individual, risks, and make a difference” (Hutton, 2000, p. 241).
team members, others to be kept informed);
• Timeline; and,
CORE VALUES AND CONCEPTS
• Dependencies (resources or inputs, tools, other sup-
The Baldrige process, specifically its criteria, is built on
port) (Hutton, 2000, p.217).
eleven core values and concepts. According to experts in
Recognition the Baldrige field, including NIST, these core values and
The Baldrige Award is one of the highest recognitions an concepts are the underlying principles of the entire Baldrige
organization can receive. It denotes that a business is the program and represent “the interrelated and embedded
“best of the best,” a world-class competitor and performer, beliefs and behaviors found in high-performing organiza-
a company that embodies the highest quality business tions.” Further NIST states that:
practices, services and products as based on Baldrige They are the foundation for integrating key business
values, concepts and criteria of excellence. Since changes requirements within a results-oriented framework
in law in 1997, governmental entities can compete for the that creates a basis for action and feedback (NIST,
Baldrige Award in the areas of education and health. The 2002, p. 1).
2001 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winners
consisted, for example, of a manufacturing company (Clarke The core values and concepts are:
American Checks, Inc. of San Antonio, TX), a small busi-
• Visionary Leadership
ness (Pal’s Sudden Service of Kingsport, TN), two school
• Customer-Driven Excellence
districts (Chugach School District of Anchorage, AK and
• Organizational and Personal Learning
Pearl River School District of Pearl River, NY), and a uni-
• Valuing Employees and Partners
versity regional campus (University of Wisconsin-Stout of
• Agility
Menomonie, WI).
• Focus on the Future
Dozens of “baby Baldriges” (state, regional and local
• Managing for Innovation
quality awards based on Baldrige criteria) also exist and
• Managing for Fact
winners are recognized here for their best practices and
• Public Responsibility and Citizenship
overall excellence in the provision of services and prod-
• Focus on Results and Creating Value
ucts. This recognition is much prized and the organizations
• Systems Perspective
that do win are sought out by similar entities, business-
oriented or governmental ones, for benchmarking and In the following narrative, ten of these core values
other related purposes. (See http://nist.gov/public_affairs/ and concepts will be discussed. The application of “pub-
factsheet/baldfaqs.htm and CEO Issue Sheets at http: lic responsibility and citizenship” as conceived within the
//www.nist.gov ). Baldrige process, and as discussed in Baldrige related
While this sort of recognition is important and well- literature, is not easily placed within the context of public
deserved, recognition can also take on different forms and organizations. This core value is meant and applicable, for
can be equally satisfying. The self-assessment, feedback Baldrige purposes, strictly for private business and manu-
and improvement stages of the Baldrige payoff (above) are facturing industries. For this reason, Baldrige’s concept of
awards in themselves yet of a different but “similar” kind. public responsibility and citizenship will not be discussed
The satisfaction, pride, self-knowledge, teamwork, etc. of below.1
undertaking serious and difficult steps in improving per-
formance and quality in an organization is rewarding, both Visionary Leadership
personally and collectively. Awareness of a job well-done This core value/concept, visionary leadership, is about
among colleagues and co-workers is highly gratifying and, setting directions, creating a customer-based focus, and
according to experts in Baldrige processes and methods, “raising the bar” with regard to future expectations. Senior

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leaders within an organization or public entity must clearly undertake and sustain customer-driven values, that is, they
and distinctly see what it is they want their organization to must act, in a concerted fashion, to add constituent-based
be in both the short- and long-terms. As visionary leaders, value to their organizational aims. This is not simply a tru-
they must communicate this to their employees, not in ism, but a fact that has been verified by companies and
abstract, vague or meaningless terms, but rather in precise businesses for the past several years by Baldrige Award
language. The vision must be understandable, achievable, winners, such as, Boeing, 3M, Texas Instruments, and the
and sensible. Senior leaders should additionally ensure the Ritz-Carlton Company. Satisfied customers have trust and
creation of strategies and methods for achieving organiza- are loyal to organizations (and governmental entities) that
tional missions, goals and objectives. They should promote are customer-driven, they spread “the word” to their family
innovation and provide adequate resources to bring their and friends, they feel good about their experiences with
(the organization’s) vision to fruition. the organization and, especially important with regard to
Visionary leadership should furthermore inspire and mo- public sector organizations, they have a feeling of self-as-
tivate personnel to contribute proactively to organizational surance about their government and its responsibilities to
success. One important way to instill this enthusiasm and them as citizens and taxpayers. Hence, customer-driven
embed it into the workplace is for organizational (public excellence should always be a priority, a necessity in the
agency or office) leadership to serve as role models of organizational culture and all of its various components
organizational commitment, involvement, and/or action. and actions, whatever they may be.
Senior leaders should be visible to their employees, that is,
be communicative, passionate, dedicated and hardwork- Organizational and Personal Learning
ing. They should “live and breathe” the organizational Learning within an organizational setting is a significant
vision, exemplify its values and purposefulness. (NIST, core value and concept that can be achieved in many ways.
2002, p. 1). Some of these include the following:

Customer-Driven Excellence • Gaining new and productive knowledge through


Organizational success in the public sector, like the private daily regular work activities;
one, depends on the satisfaction of the client, the constitu- • Interacting across personal work units, with other
ent, the citizen… the customer. For instance, those indi- similar or dissimilar work units, and interfacing with
viduals -- the citizenry -- who travel public roads, call 911, varying organizational levels;
seek job assistance, renew their driver’s license, have their • Utilizing problem-solving skills and approaches to get
trash collected, send their children to elementary school, at the origin or foundation of work-related problems,
and so on, want a quality service, prompt, value-laden, and i.e., “root causes;”
effective. They want to be treated with friendliness and • Sharing acquired knowledge with other employees,
courteousness, they want someone to listen to their needs work units, an/or organizational levels;
and to be given aid, they want to be able to have confidence • Discovering opportunities to “effect change and to
and trust in their government, its leaders, its employees, do better;” and,
and its services and products. They want complaints to • Utilizing, specifically, R&D informational resources,
be given serious attention, and addressed, and resolved. and best practices techniques or benchmarking ap-
They want, in other words, what the Baldrige process calls proaches. (NIST, 2002, p. 2).
“customer-driven excellence.”
As NIST (2002, pp.1-2) states in its discussion of Baldrige (Note: Additionally, though not heavily emphasized
values and concepts, “quality and performance are judged by in NIST Baldrige literature, it should be noted that
an organization’s customers.” In this respect, organizations, participating in formal training and continuing edu-
including public agencies and institutions, must constantly cation programs, related to work, would obviously
strive to understand their customer’s needs and expecta- enhance “personal learning ” experiences as well.)
tions. Data and information on customer-need should be
Thus, the benefits from organizational and personal
gathered systematically, analyzed, and determinations and
learning are several. In one sense, they shore up customer
adjustments or actions should be made to gain or improve
focus and service quality where it may be lacking. In another
customer satisfaction. What do our customer’s want or
way, a reduction in errors and defects, including waste, likely
expect of us today? What will they expect tomorrow? Orga-
comes about due to the overall day-to-day, cumulative ef-
nizations must be in the know constantly and consistently
fect of “learning” experiences. And, in addition, improved
about customer preferences and desires. If organizations
responsiveness and productivity are, according to Baldrige
are to succeed then their mission, goals and objectives must

16 JUNE 2002 PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE - USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH
experts, logical by-products. As such, many positive things Organizations must work to develop and maintain
can be expected from the values associated with organiza- capacities to respond faster and fully to customer needs.
tional and personal learning (NIST, 2000). Agencies, departments and other public entities, in par-
ticular, must examine their service and product systems
Valuing Employees and Partners and activities and discover ways to eliminate unnecessary
Any organization that is expected to succeed and maintain and time-consuming procedures. If a requirement does
a high level of performance, must value its workforce. Or- not add value to the customers’ service needs, it is likely
ganizational (agency) heads, management and supervisors not needed and, in many instances, is there to serve the
must actively support, aid and abet their employees to bureaucracy rather than the customer. Worse, it may even
achieve excellence at every level. They must demonstrate be a requirement -- when closely scrutinized -- that is also
it openly and frequently. For example, employees in the wasteful or costly.
public sector must be or feel “motivated” to achieve agency According to specialists in Baldrige techniques, analyz-
goals and objectives. Agency or public institutional leader- ing and improving work tasks, processes and procedures
ship thus must strive constantly to motivate. Additionally, “enables an organization to perform better, faster and
employees must be in an organizational environment that cheaper.” It is advised that:
encourages them to take calculated and temperate risks • Organizations need to concentrate on updating design
and to “think outside of the box.” quality with the aim of preventing problems;
They must additionally be treated fairly and honestly, and • Organizations need to use benchmarking or best prac-
allowed to provide input, both of a creative and resourceful tices methods when and wherever possible; and,
kind, to the organizational decision-making apparatus. They • Organizations need to use R&D approaches from the
must be recognized for their efforts and, more importantly, very start or “get go” to optimize performance (be pro-ac-
their contribution to organizational or programmatic results. tive as opposed to being merely reactive). (Blazey, 2000,
Employees must also be adequately compensated.2 They p. 22).
should additionally be afforded opportunities to progress
in the organization, to take on challenging jobs, to grow Focus on the Future
professionally. Another theme and underlying principle of the Baldrige
According to official Baldrige language, as related by process is focusing on the future and its potentialities or
NIST (2002, p. 2), “organizations need to build internal and possibilities. Organizations should have a future orienta-
external partnerships to better accomplish overall goals. tion. Strategically speaking, what are organizations’ future
Internal partnerships might entail employee development, strengths and weaknesses, and how should organizations
cross-training, or the establishment of high-performance begin preparing for tomorrow’s threats and opportunities?
work teams. External partnerships might be with customers, In other words, it should clearly be asked: “What will our
suppliers, etc. These external partnerships might offer new constituencies or customers need and desire in the short-
opportunities for improving products and services.” and long-terms?” “What do we (e.g., as a public entity) need
to do to be ready to satisfy these future customer wants?”
Like it or not, the facts are … customers’ needs change.
Agility Expectations change. Environments, marketplaces change.
Organizational success today requires what the Baldrige
Technologies change. Management practices change. All
process refers to as “agility – a capacity for rapid change and
things eventually change. A focus on the future better
flexibility” (NIST, 2000). Unfortunately, as regards public
positions a public organization to plan for these changes.
organizations, bureaucracies have a reputation, true or not,
The motto here is “semper paratus” or “always prepared
pervasive or not, as organizations that are often bound up
or ever ready.”
with “red-tape,” inflexibility, and sluggishness, i.e., “slow to
get things done.” In our global and modern day setting of
electronic messaging, Fed Ex overnight international mail Managing for Innovation
delivery, e-commerce, fast food, etc., it is imperative that Nearly everyone is familiar today, if only by name or repu-
public organizations double and re-double their efforts at tation, with the businesses of Microsoft Corporation and
building a capacity for change and flexibility. People who Apple Computer, Inc. They are big, aggressive, cutting-edge
go to the DMV want prompt, efficient service. Long lines, organizations. For those moderately familiar with their
delays, and entrenched procedural protocols or require- similar lines of high-tech business, in all their essential
ments are not what DMV customers desire or need. dimensions (i.e., practices, products and services), what
really stands out is their mutual interest in and focus on
innovation. As keen competitors on the progressive and

USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH - PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE JUNE 2002 17
emerging edges or trends of computer technology, these Governments today are especially trying to ascertain
two businesses represent the quintessential meaning and how well public organizations and programs are doing
importance of innovation – new ideas, creativity, “thinking in providing services and products to their citizenry.
smart.” In short, they must be constantly innovative, not Governments are asking: “What kind and how many
only to succeed, but simply to exist as viable organizations services are we getting from allocated dollars?” “Are
or businesses. these public services of good value?” “Are they making
The point here is that in order for organizations “to be” a difference in citizens’ lives?” (Young, 2001, p. 45).
and especially “to grow,” management and employees alike
must take innovation seriously, and as a core value, embed Focus on Results and Creating Value
it into the organizational culture. This is true for the “Mi- Public organizations, as briefly mentioned earlier, have
crosofts” and “Apples”of the world, all progressive thinking sometimes brought upon themselves a bad, even an ap-
and shrewd businesses, and it should be true for public palling image. This occurs not always, not even nowadays
sector organizations as well. New ideas in the public sector frequently, but occasionally and principally when a public
should be sought out and given thoughtful consideration. agency or office gets focused purely on its own processes,
For example, uncovering a new, innovative way to process rules and procedures. Hence, the odious phrase “red-
tax returns more accurately and faster is good “business” tape.”
sense. Simplifying tax forms and easing the preparation of Self-serving institutional procedures, and “unfocused or
tax returns generally are good ideas and are value-laden. “misfocused” public servants can wreak havoc and public
New ways of making tax officials easily accessible to taxpay- organizations, at all levels, have an important duty to keep
ers with tax questions, like over the Internet, makes sense. on their guard that this does not happen, but rather, to
Hence, according to Baldrige principles, organizations that remain “focused on what really matters.” This focus should
“manage for innovation,” encourage it, will serve its custom- be again, according to Baldrige, the customer. Producing
ers (viz., the public) well and increasingly better. results for the customer in a civil, friendly and professional
manner is what the customer wants. Organizations that
Management by Fact produce desired results for their customers get their jobs
The decision-making process(es) in organizations should done with customer satisfaction and praise.
be guided and driven by facts. While intuition or “gut It should be remembered, in so far as public entities are
feelings” may have their place in making choices, facts are concerned, that the government serves the people. When
inescapable and reality-based. Ignore them, spin them, a governmental organization builds its mission, goals and
or alter them and organizations will in all likelihood run objectives around “results-producing” for the people it
into trouble. Therefore, management by fact is clearly an serves, the focus is right. Likewise, when an organization
important factor to organizational success and is a core constructs its activities and procedures to achieve agency
value of the Baldrige process. goals and objectives with an emphasis on customers, the
More specifically, organizations must strive to set into focus is right. The same goes for other management systems
place systems that measure and analyze performance. Per- such as performance appraisal, etc. Translate all of this into
formance measurement is a management tool that allows, concrete results for customers and… the focus is right!
for example, a business or a public agency to gauge the Simply put, Baldrige’s focus on results and creating value
progress of activities, costs per unit of service, achieving should be done to ensure “creating and maintaining value
program goals and objectives, work output and workload for customers.” This means, for example, or by simple illus-
data. This data or information is critical to measuring unit tration in the public sector setting, that if an elderly person
and overall organizational work, efficiency and effectiveness. gets a little confused and calls the highway department to
It is thus not only critical that performance measurement inquire about “meals on wheels,” do not tell this person that
systems are in place, but also that they are good ones that they have got the wrong number and hang up. Help them
provide accurate, useful and timely data (facts). As regards find the right number and do something to bring value to
public institutions… your position, your organization, the government’s role to
serve and protect the people – our customers.

Systems Perspective
Taken together, the Baldrige core values and the seven Bal-
drige criteria form an interlocking, organized system, one
whose aim is organizational excellence. Like any system,

18 JUNE 2002 PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE - USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH
each part of that system is important to the other parts FIGURE 1
and the whole. Systems theory, therefore, is a significant
value associated with the Baldrige process. According to
Baldrige Criteria for Excellence
NIST (2002, p. 4), 2002 Criteria -- Categories/Items Point Values
The Baldrige Criteria provide a systems perspective 1 LEADERSHIP 120
for managing your organization to achieve perfor- 1.1 Organizational Leadership 80
mance excellence. The Core Values and the seven 1.2 Public Responsibility and Citizenship 40
Baldrige Categories form the building blocks and
2 STRATEGIC PLANNING 85
the integrating mechanism for the system. However,
2.1 Strategy Development 40
successful management of overall performance re-
2.2 Strategy Deployment 45
quires organization-specific synthesis and alignment.
Synthesis means looking at your organization as a 3 CUSTOMER AND MARKET FOCUS 85
whole and building upon key business requirements, 3.1 Customer and Market Knowledge 40
including your strategic objectives and action plans. 3.2 Customer Relationships and Satisfaction 45
Alignment means using the key linkages among re- 4 INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS 90
quirements given in the Baldrige categories, including 4.1 Measurement and Analysis of Organizational Performance 50
key measures/indicators. 4.2 Information Management 40
CRITERIA 5 HUMAN RESOURCE FOCUS 85
The Baldrige criteria are -- again -- utilized by thousands 5.1 Work Systems 35
of private and public sector organizations to evaluate their 5.2 Employee Education, Training, and Development 25
status or progress in being successful or the degree of “or- 5.3 Employee Well-Being and Satisfaction 25
ganizational excellence” in their varying fields (Howard, 6 PROCESS MANAGEMENT 85
2000, p. vii). The vast majority of these organizations that 6.1 Product and Service Processes 45
use the Baldrige criteria, as stated earlier, are not applying 6.2 Business Processes 25
for the Baldrige Award or the dozens of “baby Baldrige” 6.3 Support Processes 15
awards (especially state-sponsored award programs) that
7 BUSINESS RESULTS 450
have sprung up over the past decade. Instead, these organi-
7.1 Customer-Focused Results 125
zations are using the Baldrige criteria to understand where
7.2 Financial and Market Results 125
they are and what they need to do to improve (where they
7.3 Human Resource Results 80
want to be).
7.4 Organizational Effectiveness Results 120
To compete for the Baldrige Award, or a similar one, or
simply to assess organizational standing and to discover TOTAL POINTS 1000
areas for improvement, the seven Baldrige criteria are put (Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2002).
together in a formal self-assessment format.3 Each criterion Baldrige national quality program: Criteria for performance
is broken down into assessment “items” that are put into excellence. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, p. 9).
a question(s) form for an organization to respond to in
writing. In addition, each criterion (as are the individual
items) of the seven total criteria is given a total scoring In the discussion that follows each criterion will be briefly
value. For example, the first criteria “leadership” is given discussed. The intent is to give the reader an overview of
a maximum score of 120 points. The leadership criterion the Baldrige criteria and the types of questions an organi-
is additionally subdivided into two question-formatted zation (a public sector organization) should be asking to
items: “organizational leadership” with a total possible understand its current performance and operational status
score of 80; and, “public responsibility and citizenship” as it compares to Baldrige standards. As this article is aimed
with a complete point value of 40. Hence, the criterion at the implications Baldrige has for public sector organiza-
leadership consists of two items valued individually at tions, the reader is encouraged to interpret the narrative
totals of 80 and 40 for a maximum score of 120. Taken in light of how the criteria can be useful to governmental
altogether the seven Baldrige criteria are separated into organizations of all sizes and kinds.
19 items and, when scored perfectly, equal a 1,000-point 1. Leadership. According to NIST’s criteria assessment
total. (See Figure above). form or document (questionnaire) for performance excel-
lence (2002, p.12), the leadership criterion inquires as to

USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH - PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE JUNE 2002 19
the roles and actions of senior management within the key steps in their strategic planning process, including par-
organizational (agency or office) setting over the previous ticipants, and planning timelines. Baldrige inquires also
year or so. This Baldrige criterion asks how senior lead- as to how data and information are brought together, for
ers “address values, strategic directions, and performance strategic planning purposes, in the areas of (1) customer
expectations.” The criterion also covers senior leader in- needs, desires and opportunities, (2) the organization’s
volvement in “a focus on customers and other stakeholders, environment (external and internal), (3) technological
empowerment, innovation, and learning.” (NIST, 2000). influences on the organization and its products and ser-
The leadership criterion also examines senior leaderships vices, (4) organizational strengths and weaknesses, and
role in public responsibility and citizenship (not discussed (5) financial or budgetary, societal and other risks. (NIST,
in this article). 2002, p.14).
The key request by Baldrige at this juncture is to literally A few concluding remarks on strategic planning. There is,
describe, in reasonable detail, and in writing, how senior without a doubt, extensive literature on the topic of strategic
leaders “guide” the organization and how they “review” planning. Most of the literature speaks to its logical benefits
organizational performance. To answer this, five key ques- and model techniques or implementation methods. This is
tion areas are addressed: highly useful and recommended reading. More importantly,
• How do senior leaders (public agency heads and se- some literature, especially that based on studies of real
nior management) institutionalize values, especially those practices and experiences in using strategic planning, notes
connected to customers and other stakeholders? How do that strategic planning is not an instant fix to organizational
they set and deploy short- and long-term directions as problems, and it involves true commitment and a lot of
well as performance expectations for the organization? resources and work. The results over time, however, are
How do they communicate these values, directions, and inspiring and positive. Strategic planning is fundamentally
expectations? about self-examination and new opportunities. It is about
• How do senior leaders generate an atmosphere or a chance to improve significantly an organization, what it
setting for empowerment, innovation, flexibility, and work- does, and the people it serves. According to experts and
related education or learning? practitioners alike, it is unquestionably worth the time,
• How do senior leaders assess performance and respond money and effort.5
to needed changes or performance gaps? 3. Customer and Market Focus. “Focus on customers”
• More specifically, how are “negative” performance re- is the theme to this set of Baldrige questions. In a sense, it
view findings (gaps) prioritized for improvement by senior gets at the very heart of what an organization is and does.
management? How do senior leaders deploy resources to Simply asked, “Who are your clientele or customers and
address performance gaps? what products and services do they want or expect?”
• How do senior leaders utilize performance findings To answer this question, the Baldrige criterion of “cus-
to enhance their own leadership knowledge, skills and tomer and market focus” examines how an “organization
abilities? (NIST, 2002, p. 12). determines the requirements, expectations, preferences of
2. Strategic Planning. This criterion, strategic planning, customers and customer areas or groupings (markets).” It
examines -- more or less -- organizational “intentions” rather also inquires generally as to an “organization’s relationship
than actual “achievements” (Brown, 2000, p. 20). It asks to customers, that is, its effect on customer acquisition (out-
how an organization (an agency) comes up with missions, reach), satisfaction, and retention.” (NIST, 2002, p. 16).
goals and objectives, and how action plans (strategies) arise. Specific questions include:
It additionally asks about the deployment of strategic plans • How does the organization (public agency or office)
and performance measurement. identify customers and segment them?
Strategic planning is absolutely essential to organizational • What kinds of methods (“listening and learning” tech-
success, and it’s worth noting that public institutions are niques, statistical data, performance indices, complaint in-
increasingly realizing this important fact. According to a formation, etc.) are used to identify customer requirements
recent survey conducted by the National Conference of and priorities?
State Legislatures (Urban Institute, 2001, p. 101), 18 states • How does the organization continuously evaluate
now have statutes that require agencies to use strategic and improve methods to satisfy customers and maintain
plans. Most of these states require mission statements, their loyalty?
goals and objectives, action plans, etc., the common and • How does the organization “think” and “plan” to ad-
generally accepted components of model strategic plan- dress future customer needs? (NIST, 2000).
ning mechanisms.4 4. Information and Analysis. This fourth Baldrige criterion
Specifically, Baldrige asks organizations what are the consists of two assessment items or areas: (1) “Measure-

20 JUNE 2002 PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE - USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH
ment and analysis of organizational performance;” and, employee satisfaction. It requests the organization to assess
(2) “Information management.” (NIST, 2002, p. 18). The and explain what it does to improve employee safety, mo-
first item examines the organizational processes connected rale and development. It also asks about the organization’s
with performance measurement systems, including data and method of determining what affects employee’s well-be-
information collection, evaluation practices, and measure- ing and motivation and how the organization’s policies,
ment indices. The second item examines analytical processes procedures and actions address these important employee
dealing with data availability, and quality of data, including determinants.
technology processes utilized by an organization. 6. Process Management. This Baldrige criterion assesses
For example, a fundamental question regarding per- an organization’s or public entity’s key management systems
formance measurement is, “How does the organization (a and practices. These include the design of customer-focused
public agency) gather and integrate data and information products and service delivery processes. In addition, the
from all sources to support daily operations and organi- criterion examines process management in terms of future
zational decision making?” (NIST, 2000). Another related organizational growth. Support issues and practices are
question is, “How does the organization actually select also analyzed under this criterion.
measurement indices to gauge performance?” Similarly, While organizational and growth issues are important
questions are asked about keeping the performance mea- to this Baldrige review criterion, the organization’s design,
surement system up to date, communicating performance production and delivery processes stand out. Hence, ques-
information, and aligning performance measurement with tions about these matters are, most experts agree, of the
strategic planning. (NIST, 2000, pp. 16-17). utmost importance when examining “process manage-
Finally, this Baldrige criterion asks about the quality and ment.”
availability of data and information. For instance, “ How For example, in product or service delivery design,
does the organization make needed data and informa- Baldrige asks what are the organization’s design processes,
tion available, accurate, and current to meet customers, are they customer-focused, is new technology appropri-
employees, and suppliers/partners needs?” Questions ate in the design phase, etc. Essentially, the questions are,
are additionally asked as to the organization’s quality of “do your design and management processes produce good
computer hardware and software; namely, as to their reli- value and service?” “And if so, how?” Further, “do your key
ability and user friendliness. production and delivery processes meet predetermined
5. Human Resource Focus. This Baldrige criterion ad- measurements?” “And if so, please explain and document.”
dresses three critical areas dealing with an organization’s (NIST, 2000, p. 23).
human resources. These include (1) work systems, (2) 7. Business Results. According to the Baldrige program,
employee education, training and development, and the seventh and final criterion is the most important and,
lastly, (3) employee well-being and satisfaction. (NIST, for those interested in its maximum scoring possibility, this
2002, pp. 20-22). criterion currently totals 450 points (of the total Baldrige
Work systems is a generic category that basically deals 1,000-point system). (NIST, 2002, p. 26). Though termed
with questions about the organization’s work processes “business results,” for application to public sector organi-
and jobs and how they are set or determined to promote zations, it falls easily into the simple categorical typology
and foster employee initiative and flexibility. This category of, or that which is commonly called, “results.” Private or
or item also delves into how the organization prompts or public, it does not really matter. Results are results and
brings about employee motivation and, additionally, spe- here (as emphasized in criterion #7) business results can
cifically inquires as about compensation, recognition and be translated into government organizational results just
reward in achieving employee “high performance.” as easily as the prior six Baldrige criteria are transferable
The employee education, training and development to public entities by virtue of their broad or wide-ranging
area solicits the organization’s (agency’s) application “organizational” applicability.
of education and training into its strategic action plans. Having said this, the results criterion examines an
In particular, for example, it is inquired as to how the organization’s actual or matter-of-fact “outcomes and per-
organization’s education and training programs assist in formance in terms of customer satisfaction, products and
achieving short- and long-term goals and objectives. This services, human resources, and operations” (NIST, 2000).
Baldrige item also seeks to uncover, “How do you (your Reponses to this criterion demand not only clear explana-
organization) actually deliver education and training? In- tory narrative, but also documentation of “real” results, i.e.,
clude formal and informal delivery, including mentoring hard data and information. Therefore, the responses here
and other approaches.” (NIST, 2002, p. 21). are less descriptive than answers to previous criteria, and
Lastly, this criterion deals with the human resource area of are more statistical and comparative in nature.

USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH - PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE JUNE 2002 21
The Baldrige results criterion asks several vital questions. public sector – its organizations, operations, employees,
Some of these include: and, most importantly, its customers, i.e., the citizenry.
• What are the organization’s (public agency’s or office’s)
current levels, trends and outcomes as relate to customer REFERENCES
satisfaction and dissatisfaction? Blazey, M. L. (2000). Insights to performance excellence 2000:
• How do the organization’s performance indicators accu- An inside look at the Baldrige award criteria. Milwaukee,
rately convey data and information on customer results? WI: ASQ Quality Press.
• What are the current results of the organization’s hu- Brown, M. G. (2000). Baldrige award winning quality: How to
interpret the Baldrige criteria for performance excellence (10th
man resources system in terms of employee satisfaction
ed.). Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press.
and well-being, including development? Brown, M. G. (2000). The pocket guide to the Baldrige award
• What are the organization’s financial results (i.e., the criteria (7th ed.). Portland, OR: Productivity, Inc.
organization’s budget situation with regard to performance Fisher, D. C. (1994). Measuring up to the Baldrige: A quick and
– efficiency and effectiveness)? easy self-assessment guide for organizations of all sizes. New
• What are the organization’s operational results as they York, NY: AMACOM.
contribute to the achievement of overall effectiveness? (NIST, Hertz, H. S. (2002). Memorandum from the director of National
Institute of Standards and Technology to the U.S. Business
2002, pp. 26-28).
Community accompanying the document Baldrige national
quality program: Criteria for performance excellence. Wash-
CONCLUSION ington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.
The term “Baldrige” or the Baldrige National Quality Pro- Hutton, D. W. (2000). From Baldrige to the bottom line: A road
gram are familiar ones to many people. Nevertheless, the map for organizational change and improvement. Milwaukee,
meaning of the Baldrige process eludes most individuals, WI: ASQ Quality Press.
Keechley, P., Medlin, S., MacBride, S., & Longmire, L. (1997).
not to mention, in particular, its implications for public
Benchmarking for best practices in the public sector. San
sector organizations. Why is this so? Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
This is so because while there are many aware of the Liner, B., Hatry, H., Vinson, E., Allen, R., Dusenbury, P., Bryant, S.,
name Baldrige and its quest for “excellence,” few people & Snell, R., NCSL (2001). Making results-based state govern-
actually know what the Baldrige process really entails or ment work. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.
can articulate its meaning so that it makes any sense. This National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2002). Baldrige
is partly due to current tendencies to use jargon or gobble- national quality program: Criteria for performance excellence.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.
dygook that are faddish in management or executive circles,
National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2002). Malcolm
without really saying anything. But it is still more than this.
Baldrige fact sheet. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Com-
Having conducted an extensive literature review for this merce. Retrieved February 22, 2002, from http://www.nist.gov/
article, it was discovered that while there is a “massive” public_affairs/factsheet/baldfaqs.htm
amount of literature that exists about the Baldrige process, Public Law 100-107, U.S. Code, The Malcolm Baldrige National
no single paper, article, or written piece exists that truly Quality Improvement Act of 1987, as amended.
attempts to succinctly describe and explain what Baldrige South Carolina Governor’s Quality Award (2000). South Carolina
is and does. NIST’s Web site probably does this best (http: governor’s quality award. Spartanburg, SC: University of South
Carolina Spartanburg. Retrieved March 12, 2002, from http:
//www.nist.gov), but otherwise for all the literature on
//www.scquality.com
Baldrige that is out there, if you want to comprehend it, Young, R.D. (2001). Perspectives on budgeting: Budgets, reforms,
be prepared to read a lot. Hence, this article attempts to performance-based systems, politics and selected state experi-
fill in this gap and distills lots of literature into a relatively ences. Columbia, SC: Center for Governmental Services, USC
brief but complete narrative on Baldrige and the key ele- Institute for Public Service and Policy Research.
ments that define it.
Further, the purpose of this article is to also give some NOTES
indication of how the Baldrige process can benefit gov- 1
See Mark L. Blazey (2000). Insights into performance excel-
ernmental organizations of all kinds and at all levels. The lence 2000: An inside look at the 2000 Baldrige award criteria.
Baldrige assessment and feedback processes, for example, Milwaukee, WN: ASQ Quality Press, pp. 335-345. A complete
index of state quality award programs is provided with contacts
are perfectly and easily adaptable for public sector organiza-
and applicant categories.
tions. Running a good business and using good business 2
Public responsibility and citizenship are obviously implied
practices, are really not much different from doing the in the authorization, purposes and activities of public entities. As
public’s business a la state and local public agencies and a Baldrige core value and concept this is inapplicable to public
offices. Thus, Baldrige concepts, values and criteria are, if sector entities since it is a logical given that public agencies, de-
used sensibly, extremely advantageous and beneficial to the partments or institutions exist to fulfill “public responsibilities”

22 JUNE 2002 PUBLIC POLICY & PRACTICE - USC INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND POLICY RESEARCH
and, by varying roles and degrees, “citizenship.” The Council of State Governments published a paper, in 1997,
3
Compensation issues are particularly important to employees, examining state trends and models of state strategic planning
for obvious reasons, and should be regularly reviewed by manage- and “benchmarking.” Several statewide planning initiatives were
ment, along with employee duties and responsibilities as related to highlighted including those in Utah, Oregon, Minnesota, Florida,
performance, to ensure that employees have a good understanding Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Michigan. The
where they stand with regard to pay for performance. Performance Council found that each state’s strategic planning process con-
evaluation systems, well-developed ones, are therefore key to tained unique characteristics. Most states did, however, attempt to
documenting and communicating such matters. set into place the key steps that constitute, by generally accepted
4
See http://www.quality.nist.gov/PDF_files/2002_Business_ practices, a strategic plan. (See Young, 2001, p.62).
Criteria.pdf 6
See Brown, 2000, Chapter 6, pp. 101 – 124).
5
What are the key elements or steps of the strategic planning
process? Strategic planning is simply a formal yet flexible process ABOUT THE AUTHOR
to determine where an organization is currently and where it Richard D. Young, B.A., M.A., has been a senior research as-
should be in the future. There is agreement, as evidenced in recent sociate with the Institute for Public Service and Policy Research
literature, in both theory and practice, on the general steps that at the University of South Carolina since 1998. He conducts
are involved in a strategic planning process. By and large, these research on a myriad of public policy and public administration
are six steps and can be summarized as follows: topics relating to state and local governments. Mr. Young previ-
1. An “environmental scan” or a situational analysis of the ously worked with the Senate of South Carolina and the State
strengths and weaknesses of one’s organization, including an Reorganization Commission in various positions of research.
analysis of external threats and opportunities; Prior to this, Mr. Young taught at the University of Louisville,
2. The formation of or the “putting into words” of a vision Hanover College, Indiana University Southeast, and the Univer-
for the future and an accompanying mission statement which sity of Kentucky Campus in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Young has
defines the fundamental purpose of an organization, its values, a B.A. (1973) and M.A. (1975) from the University of Louisville.
and its boundaries; Mr. Young has written several papers and reports on public
3. The development of general goals, specific targets or objec- policy issues and public management theory. The Institute for
tives, and performance measurements to gauge organizational Public Service and Policy Research has published Mr. Young’s A
progress; Brief Guide to State Government in South Carolina (1999) and
4. A set of strategies to indicate what will done to accomplish A Guide to the General Assembly of South Carolina (2000).
its goals and objectives; The Institute has also published Mr. Young’s book entitled
5. The implementation of detailed operational or tactical plans Perspectives on Public Budgeting: Budgets, Reforms, Perfor-
that provide for staff assignments and schedules; and finally, mance-based Systems, Politics and Selected State Experiences
6. An evaluation component to monitor and revise the overall (2001). He and Dr. Luther F. Carter, President of Francis Marion
strategic approach as it unfolds. College, have recently co-authored a paper, due to be pub-
lished in 2002, entitled The Governor: Powers, Practices, Roles
and the South Carolina Experience. Mr. Young can be reached
at young-richard@sc.edu.

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