Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon
When I was growing up a regular activity in our household was to tune the television each week to Dragnet, a police show that was reprised as a movie in the late 1980’s. The most memorable and debated line from the weekly show was Sergeant Friday’s: “Just the facts ma’am.” So let me share “just the facts” with you about the proposed budget for NIST’s Baldrige program in these tough budgetary times.
The government is currently approaching the midpoint of fiscal year 2011. We are operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that allows us to spend at the prior fiscal year level. This continuing resolution expires in early March. The House of Representatives has just introduced an appropriations bill that would continue the funding for the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year, but at lower levels government-wide than the current CR. This process is ongoing and requires agreement between the House and Senate as well as the President’s signature before a new funding level is established for the rest of 2011.
This past Monday, the President submitted his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year (2012) to Congress. This budget request proposes to fund the Baldrige program at $7.7 million, a decrease of $1.9 million from our 2010 approved budget. The Administration has directed each agency to analyze its administrative costs and identify areas of savings where possible, and operating at this proposed level is consistent with this guidance.
With the requested 2012 funding, Baldrige will continue to develop criteria, disseminate best practices and continue the award process. However, we are also beginning to evaluate alternative sources of funding and alternative cost models for the program, with our private-sector partners sharing more of the costs going forward. The Baldrige program already operates as a partnership with the private sector, consistent with the law that established the program in 1987. This budget proposal aims to expand these partnerships and to maintain and grow the program’s reach and high level of service and value while exploring ways of transitioning out of federal funding. As with the fiscal year 2011 CR, the full Congress must approve the 2012 budget, followed by approval by the President.
Neither the Baldrige program’s current award cycle nor its scope for the future is affected by the President’s 2012 budget proposal. These are challenging times for all, and with your help, we will rise to the occasion.