PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center will officially become the first Department of Defense organization in history to be awarded the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award at the Hilton Washington in Washington, D.C., on April 23.

Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez will officiate at a formal award presentation scheduled to take place at 4:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The presentation will follow President George W. Bush's recognition of the 2007 Baldrige Award Recipients at a private meeting at the White House.

The Baldrige Award is the nation's top honor 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 for the award.

President Bush and Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez announced ARDEC's selection for the award last November.

"We are absolutely thrilled by our selection as a 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient," ARDEC director Dr. Joseph A. 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 continued. "I couldn't be prouder of each and every ARDEC employee."

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

In 2007, a nonprofit category was officially opened for applicants, allowing federal organizations to compete for the first time.

Malcolm Baldrige, for whom the award is named, was renowned for his efforts to bring excellence to both industry and the federal government.

"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."

ARDEC, 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, the center employs more than 3,000 personnel at its five different locations in the U.S.

Media interested in attending the award ceremony should contact Picatinny Public affairs at 973.724.6365 by 4:30 p.m. EDT on April 21.