WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center was presented the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award April 23. The award is the nation's highest honor for organizational innovation and performance excellence.

This year's ceremony marked the 20th anniversary for the award. Secretary of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez, presented the award to five organizations, among them, ARDEC, the first Department of Defense recipient. The Baldrige recipients were greeted by President George W. Bush, in the Oval Office at the White House just prior to the awards ceremony.

ARDEC, located at Picatinny Arsenal, a 6,500-acre military installation located in the northwest corner of New Jersey, competed with 84 applicants for this honor. ARDEC is a subordinate element of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.

"It [ARDEC] has been repeatedly recognized for an amazing strength of innovative products that literally save and help our dedicated military personnel with battles," said Gutierrez.
"It is a tremendous honor to stand here today and accept this prestigious award," said Dr. Joseph Lannon, director ARDEC. "The men and women of ARDEC have earned this distinction. Our workforce is the cornerstone for our success." He said that the journey towards achieving the Baldrige standard began 15 years ago.

During this year's Quest for Excellence Conference, the official conference for the award, ARDEC and other Baldrige winners, conducted seminars focused on improving efforts towards performance results, leadership effectiveness, customer and employee satisfaction and process management. The 2007 Baldrige recipients shared their

practices and lessons learned during their journey to performance excellence.
"Our prescription for organizational excellence is very basic," said Lannon. Everything we do is bound by a commitment to the customer, our Warfighters, whose lives depend on our work."

The Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. Since 1988, 72 organizations have received the coveted award. The award program is managed by the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology in conjunction with the private sector.

The Award recognizes small and large businesses, health care and educational organizations, and nonprofits who have achieved excellence in seven key areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; human resource focus; process management; and results.

"Government agencies are equally capable in being high performance, serving their customers, operating in a fiscally responsible and sound way," said Harry Hertz, Baldrige director. "...And ARDEC is the first one [government organization] to prove that it is achievable while delivering great products to the Warfighter."

The ARDEC leadership is excited and confidant in their role in maintaining industry excellence. "ARDEC winning this award demonstrates that government organizations can be competitive with the best industry has to offer," said Lannon.

ARDEC has an overall mission of improving already fielded items, developing new ones, maintaining a strong armament technology base in government, industry and academia and provide technical support to the Soldier in the field.

"We [ARDEC] listen to what the Soldier says and needs," said Col. Russ Hrdy, deputy director, ARDEC. "We provide the Warfighter with the most capable and best quality product that anyone can provide, so that when the Soldier uses the procuct, it's going to work right the first time."

ARDEC is internationally known for the advancement of armaments technology and engineering innovations. "ARDEC provides 90 percent of the Army's suite of armaments," said Donelle Denery, chief, Strategic Management and Process Office.
ARDEC works on a variety of technologies and products supporting the current and future forces to include small, medium and large caliber weapons, guidance systems, explosives, ammunition and related support systems.

The ARDEC organizational culture is customer-focused, team-based and dedicated to the continuous improvement and innovation through streamlined work system processes and practices. Employees are focused on the needs of customers and rapidly developing the best products possible, said Denery.

"We are continuously improving our processes and the journey doesn't end with this award, it is beginning," said Lannon.