PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center here today became the first Department of Defense organization in history selected to receive the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

President George W. Bush and Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez announced ARDEC's selection this morning in a joint news release.

ARDEC Director Joseph A. Lannon was notified yesterday of the center's selection in the non-profit category.

"I am pleased to join President Bush in congratulating the five outstanding organizations that have been named to receive this year's Baldrige Award," Gutierrez said. "The organizations we recognize today have given us superb examples of innovation, excellence and world-class performance. They serve as role models for organizations of all kinds striving to improve effectiveness and increase value to their customers."

The Baldrige National Quality Award is presented annually to a small group of elite businesses and organizations deemed to have world-class performance excellence and quality achievement practices.

"We are absolutely thrilled by our selection as a 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient," Lannon said. "Each member of our workforce is responsible for bringing this honor to our organization."

"The men and women of ARDEC earned this award as a direct result of what they are doing for our warfighters," he said. "I couldn't be prouder of each and every ARDEC employee."

"Awesome news," said Brig. Gen. William N. Phillips, commander of Picatinny Arsenal and the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command here.

"On behalf of the entire Picatinny community, I congratulate Dr. Joe Lannon and his entire ARDEC workforce for becoming the first organization in DoD to earn this prestigious honor."

The award is the nation's top prize for performance management and quality achievement. Leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management and business results are among the criteria considered for the award.

ARDEC officials now will prepare to accept the award at a ceremony to be held in Washington, D.C. in early 2008.

The center, the Army's principal researcher, developer and sustainer of current and future military armaments systems, is focused in particular on developing and improving the technical capabilities of U.S. service members fighting the Global War on Terrorism.

Headquartered here, it employs more than 3,000 personnel at its five different locations in the U.S.