Washington State Quality Award/Independent Assessment
Click on the links below for answers to frequently asked questions about the WSQA requirement.
When and how did the Washington State Quality Award requirement begin?
What is WSQA?
What is an independent assessment?
What does an application for WSQA assessment entail?
Where can I find the criteria and application forms for the WSQA application?
How much does an application for WSQA assessment cost?
How long does it take to complete the WSQA application?
Who evaluates the applications?
Who can I contact for additional information?
In 2005, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed a law requiring state agencies to apply to the Washington State Quality Award, or similar organization, for an independent assessment of their quality management, accountability, and performance systems.
- 2005: Original language required applications starting no later than 2008, and at least once every three years thereafter.
- 2009: Law amended to have applications start in 2012.
Washington State Quality Award (WSQA) is a non-profit organization modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The organization offers assessments, training and support to organizations seeking to improve their management and achieve better results. WSQA also makes awards to private, public sector and non-profit organizations that have applied the principles and demonstrated measurable sustained improvement in multiple areas.
An independent assessment is a rigorous, objective, external view of an agency’s approach to and implementation of performance management. There are several certification processes, such as the Washington State Quality Award, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and some professional accreditation processes for community colleges and universities that provide similar assessments. The law requires agencies to apply for an independent assessment of their management systems every three years, beginning in 2012.
WSQA offers two types of applications: Full Examination and the Lite Assessment.
- Full Examination: Applications are reviewed extensively by a team of trained examiners to score the level of maturity in each of the seven evaluation criteria categories. Organizations that receive high scores will receive an on-site visit. A panel of judges then recommends award recipients based on the results of the written applications and the site visits.
- Lite Assessment: Applications are reviewed at the category level by one to three Senior Examiners and/or Mentors. The on-site visit is not offered. Lite applications are eligible to receive the beginning level of recognition, but not the higher-level awards.
Criteria and application forms are available on the WSQA website here.
- An Intent to Apply Fee of $150 is required for both Full Examination and Lite Assessment applications.
- The fee for the Lite Assessment is $625.
- The fee for the Full Examination is dependent on the number of employees in the agency. Current fees are available on the WSQA website here.
- A Lite Assessment takes between approximately 300 and 350 staff hours for an agency to complete. The application includes an organizational description, as well as the answers to a series of questions related to agency results, and management and organizational systems.
- A Full Examination is significantly more involved and more expensive. The initial application is twice as long as the Lite Assessment, and if the application progresses far enough, there is the potential for up to a week-long site visit by WSQA examiners.
Assessments are provided by volunteer examiners trained by WSQA. State agencies larger than 50 employees are required to designate at least one person to be trained and serve on loan to WSQA as an examiner.