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Quality Improvement in Financial Management at the University of Washington

Vol 1, No. 2
Summer 2002

WSQA—Promoting and Recognizing Quality

Musical Dashboards – The Summer Event

Procurement Card Team Marks Two-Year Achievements

A Short History of Quality
from 10,000 BC to the Present Day



WSQA Award

WSQA—Promoting and Recognizing Quality

by Kate Riley

I want to make everyone aware of an outstanding quality resource we have in our state, the Washington State Quality Award Program (WSQA). WSQA reaches both individuals and organizations and was introduced in 1994 to support Governor Locke’s quality improvement initiative. The WSQA’s primary objectives are to:

• recognize significant achievement
• encourage use of performance data & dashboards
• provide education & training

The first objective is accomplished through the Washington State Quality Award which is based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria for performance excellence. The criteria are thorough, penetrating and demanding. The Baldrige Award for Education was given for the first time in 2001 to the University of Wisconsin-Stout ( In Washington, the WSQA award is given to organizations that have implemented and achieved exceptional quality performance.

How are organizations selected to receive this prestigious award? First, they prepare an application that addresses seven areas of operation. Examiners then read and score the report. Those organizations whose application shows strong promise are given a site visit during which they further demonstrate their approach to quality. Finally, the WSQA Board of Directors reviews all of this material and decides on whether an award is merited. It’s a lot of work for a lot of people but the gains for everyone are substantial.

This past year I was selected to be an examiner and was one of a team that reviewed the application submitted by NAVSEA Keyport, WA. This organization installs and maintains computer systems in the Navy’s ships and operates the testing site for all of the country’s torpedoes. NAVSEA successfully navigated each level of review and was awarded a Leadership Level award by Governor Locke. I affectionately referred to the experience as “intellectual boot camp.” But I guess it wasn’t so bad, as I am again this year serving as an examiner.

Several colleagues in FM recently attended the “Public Sector Quality Conference” sponsored by WSQA. Ruchi Aggarwal, Peggy Fitzwater, Diane Cooley, Nancy Hurja and Erick Winger attended “Real Results for Real People” which offered an array of workshops to teach the use of quality tools and performance data to make a difference in the work we do. This conference is offered each year in the fall and is open to anyone in FM who would like to attend. Look for it next September.

Finally, WSQA offers a number of workshops to help individuals and organizations prepare for the quality award. Check out WSQA at their web site by clicking on the WSQA logo to the right.

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