Should NIST laboratories serve as a testbed for applying total quality management to research and development?

Findings and Conclusions

At the Board's 1993 annual meeting, NIST stated that it plans to adopt total quality management (TQM) in its nonresearch activities and that seven pilot TQM programs have been initiated in such NIST activities as the (Physical) Plant Division, the Office of Personnel and Civil Rights, and the Standard Reference Materials Program. NIST also reported plans to visit selected industrial laboratories experienced in using TQM.

During fiscal year 1993 program reviews, the panels observed that most of the senior-level management of NIST's laboratories were reasonably well informed about TQM but that there was modest to no awareness of TQM at the bench level.

The Board believes that the philosophy of TQM developed under the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program for improving the performance of manufacturing companies, service companies, and small businesses--while not directly applicable as now stated4 to the management of research and development--could be adopted to good effect for the management of R&D. In particular, NIST could contribute to the competitiveness of U.S. industry by adopting and proving the worth of TQM for R&D and then by perfecting and disseminating principles of TQM for R&D.

  • Develop a set of guidelines for total quality management of research and development programs and projects based on the core values and concepts that underlie the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program.

  • Apply the modified form of total quality management to the programs of at least one major laboratory, preferably one whose programs are predominantly industrially oriented.

  • If NIST's experience in using total quality management for research and development turns out in time to be noteworthy, disseminate the guidelines and results nationally as an adjunct to the current Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program.


“1993 Award Criteria,” individual copies available free of charge from Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Route 270 and Quince Orchard Road, Administration Building, Room A537, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, telephone (301) 975-2036, telefax (301) 948-3716.

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