COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Army National Guard is the gold winner in the 2018 Army Communities of Excellence competition among all Army National Guard submissions. An awards ceremony will take place on May 17 at the Pentagon.

The ACOE uses the Baldrige Excellence Framework that focuses on innovation and improvement, and is often used as guidance for self-assessing an organization's improvements and progress. The OHARNG earned the award based on assessment criteria in seven categories, including, leadership, strategic planning, customer focus and results.

Maj. Gen. Mark Bartman, Ohio adjutant general, said he recognizes the innovations implemented by the Ohio National Guard Soldiers and civilians not only during the assessment period for the competition, but every day throughout the year.

"I am incredibly proud of the Soldiers and civilians who contributed to the Ohio Army National Guard's selection for top honors as the Army Communities of Excellence Award Gold winner for the Army National Guard," Bartman said. "This award is a testament to their unparalleled professionalism, commitment and expertise."

The competition consisted of two rounds, an application process and a site visit, with evaluators from across the country.

The Ohio National Guard uses an innovative 3-year process focused on their Soldiers becoming experts on the Baldrige Excellence Framework. The program confirms the commitment to sustaining a culture of excellence within the organization.

"The ACOE program is truly in our organizational DNA," said Maj. Danielle Reese, director of the Ohio Army National Guard's Office of Performance Excellence. "Each year, a team of Soldiers is chosen to learn the Baldrige Excellence Framework. These Soldiers advance each year, graduating to a higher level, which increases their knowledge of the process. The end result is a results-focused and integrated management system."

ACOE is a Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) program that emphasizes strategies to achieve a performance-driven management system, maximize efficiencies, innovation, sustainability and continuous process improvement in installation management. The annual ACOE competition measures and recognizes the best performing installations and communities in the Army.

The Ohio National Guard has previously taken top honors in 2015, 2009, 2006, 2004 and 2003, and was named Rookie of the Year in 2002.