Vice President Biden at Baldrige Award Ceremony

Uploaded by usnistgov on 11.12.2009

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's our pleasure
to bring onto the stage one of our nation's
most distinguished, dedicated public servants,
Joe Biden.
Joe Biden has spent 36 years (laughter)
representing Delaware in the United States Senate
where he made it the cause of his life
to expand economic opportunity across this country.
And it's work that Joe Biden has continued
as Vice President.
Indeed, President Obama tapped him to head up
the White House Task Force on Working Families
where he ensures that policy-makers
and members of the cabinet and the staff
are focused on job creation and rebuilding America's
middle class.
Joe Biden understands the issues,
the worries, the dreams and the aspirations
of working families and small businesses
and organizations across America.
He is a person who is relentless in getting us
in the federal government to be more productive,
more efficient, and to focus on
the challenges of America.
He's one of the President's most trusted
advisors and we are indeed honored
to have him here with us.
Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome the Vice President of
the United States of America, Joe Biden.
(applause) ("Hail Columbia")
Thank you very, very much.
Fortunately, all of you on this side
of the room could not see what this side
of the room saw.
Gary -- Mr. Secretary -- when you said, "Joe Biden,"
and I apologize -- no speaker should ever start this way
by apologizing for being late,
but it's one of the drawbacks of not being President.
You know, the boss says, "Stick," you stick, you know.
But as you said, I came rushing in,
knowing I was late.
And all I could hear you say was,
"Joe Biden" and I opened the curtain.
And I realized that I wasn't supposed to step out.
(laughter) I felt like
the Wizard of Oz back there.
You know, I told the governor earlier,
I tell all of you, I tried very hard for a while
there to become the nominee.
And by the way, I'd say retrospectively,
if I'd known how good this guy was,
I would have joined earlier, I just wouldn't
have fooled around.
But I often wondered, we'd be behind a curtain
like that during the campaign and the nomination,
and someone would say, "And here's Joe Biden."
Well, when I joined the ticket, you know,
there's formal people, folks back there
with microphones.
And they'll say, "Now you're going
to be introduced by the voice of God."
I had Harry Smith introducing me
or Charlie Jones.
Barack always had the voice of God
introducing him.
So now I realize why it wasn't even a race.
But folks, all kidding aside, I truly apologize
for keeping you waiting because this is
an important lunch.
It's an important occasion and it is not really excusable
for me to be late for so many important people
and the honorees.
I understand Senator Klobuchar is here,
or at least was.
Amy, if you're here, good to see you.
And the Board of Overseers, the Baldrige Foundation,
the American Society for Quality
and the Baldrige team at the National Institute
of Standards and Technology.
I acknowledge all of you and thank you all
for all that you've done.
You know, during my Senate career,
I had the pleasure of knowing --
which is really going to date me --
16 Secretaries of Commerce.
And I'm telling you, Mac was clearly
one of the most memorable that I have ever met
in my 37-year career.
Then again, it's pretty hard to forget
a cabinet member inducted into the Cowboy's Hall of Fame,
who was once named the Professional Rodeo
Man of the Year.
And I'm so pleased that I'm told
Mac's nephew is with us.
Malcolm, are you here?
There you go.
How are you doing, Malcolm?
Malcolm Hollensteiner.
If my dad were alive, he'd look at you
and he'd say, "Kid, you got good blood,
you've got good blood."
You know, after Mac's untimely death,
I was proud to support the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Improvement Act when
I was a United States senator.
That legislation passed way back
in August of 1987.
And it was born of the realization
that America's competitors were -- and I might argue
for the first time at least in the last century
for the first time -- beginning to outpace us,
especially in the area of manufacturing and industry.
Quite simply, it was clear -- and this was Mac's
sort of drumbeat -- we had do to better,
we had to do a lot better and our economic future
depended on it.
And I would argue it still does.
Mac's vision of this award's recognition helped us
refocus on the future, on quality,
on performance and, most importantly maybe,
on innovation.
Now here we are, 22 years later, and again
at an economic crossroads for this great nation, again,
channeling Mac's sprit and his vision
and again looking toward innovators in order
to strengthen our economy.
And that's why President Obama and I are so proud
to honor the hard-working men and women of Cargill
and who I just got a chance to meet,
and Poudre Valley Health Systems,
as well as a school system.
Think about this, here we are talking about
Iredell State School District
and their being honored today.
But when you know, and you do know,
what they've done, what all of them have done,
you understand why it's so important,
because they've made real changes.
Cargill Milling North America saw earnings nearly triple
between 2003 and 2007, and in the process
maintained an impeccable, impeccable error-free
delivery rate throughout.
But what makes so many people so proud,
and speaking for myself, so proud of Cargill,
is their model response to the devastating floods
in Cedar Rapids last year, floods which
I witnessed and saw, saw the devastation.
It's hard for people to believe,
unless you actually, physically saw it,
what happened.
The response from Cargill was that they engaged
the entire community and they treated
their employees with a kind of dignity
that should be a norm, but unfortunately these days
sometimes is an exception -- always, always treated
employees with dignity.
And the -- am I pronouncing it right --
You'd think, as an Irishman, I'd get that right.
The Iredell-Statesville School, our second winner,
you guys looked at the low budgets
that you were faced with and limited resources,
and said, "We're going to do the best anyway.
We're not going to use it as an excuse
as to why we can't get better."
You transformed your district culture --
that's how I see it, the entire culture
of your district.
I'm married to an educator, have been
for the last 35 years, she's been teaching
all that time.
And she always talked about the culture --
it's a phrase that she uses -- "The culture
of the school system," "the culture of the district,"
"the culture of the school."
Well, you literally transformed the district's culture from
one that focuses on teaching to one that focused
on learning.
You raised graduation rates, proficiency scores, attendance,
as well as morale.
And you became a model, a model for the 21st Century
public school systems we need throughout this country.
And, as for the third winner -- it's pronounced
"Prudo" right -- Poudre, what am I getting --
nothing wrong with it, you can call me "Bidden"
it's okay.
I often get called "Bidden."
The Poudre Valley Health System is amazing.
You know, what they've done is no surprise
except it is not the norm.
It's no surprise that both your patient loyalty
and physician satisfaction ranks in the top one percent
nation-wide of all the hospitals in America.
It's pretty impressive.
You've revolutionized health care
and that's because you get that the reason people
enter your industry in the first place
is to help others.
It sounds so basic, but the truth of the matter is
the motivating factor for most people
to be involved in health care is the same reason
motivating factor why people become firemen
or policemen -- they actually
are engaged in it, notwithstanding what
remuneration may flow from it --
because they really are moved by the notion
that they can actually help people.
And it seems surprising to me and so self-evident now
that you've done it, that it is not recognized.
When you appeal to that piece, that piece
of what motivates people to get involved
in the first place, you can change.
You know, when Aristotle wrote, "Excellence is not an act,
but a habit," I think he had these three guys
and their outfits in mind -- or they say he could have.
The truth of the matter is that while others that were asking,
"What has been done?"
you were wondering, "What hasn't been done?"
and "What can we do?"
You know, where others were settling for good enough,
you three were aiming, and your outfits were aiming,
at world-class.
Good enough wasn't good enough.
And while others were buffeted by the winds of change,
you harnessed those winds of change,
improving, inventing and innovating
for a new century in a new world.
Gary, the Secretary, has heard me say this before.
One of my favorite Irish poets is William Butler Yeats.
And he wrote about his Ireland in a poem called,
"Easter Sunday 1916."
And there's a verse in there,
a line in there, that better describes
where we are today than it did his Ireland
in 1916.
He said, "All's changed, changed utterly.
A terrible beauty has been born."
Most people in business and in their personal life
face that realization with a sense of dread
and a sense of foreboding.
You all faced it with a sense of opportunity.
You decided things got to change
and you embraced it.
And so, for me, for me, it comes down to
a habit, an attitude, a habit of seeking excellence,
a habit of seeking innovation, a habit of being
willing to take chances.
And you've applied that to everything you've done
in three totally different areas.
So what makes your achievements today
doubly impressive in my view is that you're reexamining
in the past and the present, you haven't decided to settle.
You decided we're able to do something
fundamentally different, even though people
have been trying in each of your areas
at this for a long while.
You know, the fact is that what you've done is
you've begun to set a standard and help America
reclaim its future.
So I want to thank each one of you
for all the work you've done and what I expect
a heck of a lot more you're about to do,
you're going to continue to do.
And I want to thank you for your example.
As you know, President Obama and I will be hosting
a White House job summit tomorrow with leaders
from American businesses, both large and small.
And I literally -- not figuratively --
will be taking your stories of success in
these three critical sectors -- manufacturing,
health care and education -- taking it to that conference,
taking it when I go.
And I hope, I hope that your stories can inspire
a new chapter in the America story.
Over the past three years I've had the opportunity to travel
all across America.
And often I was literally on a bus going through
small- and medium-sized towns in the south and Midwest
and throughout the country.
And on that bus, I was usually accompanied
by a local official -- Democrat or Republican --
someone, the town manager, the local representatives.
And as we passed in the bus -- and I mean this
in the literal sense, I'm not being figurative --
they'd point out the window and they'd point to
a local landmark.
And the commentary was almost always the same.
They'd say to me, "You know, Senator, that used to be..."
"That used to be a steel mill employing 2,000 people."
"That used to be -- our town used to be
the ceramic capital of the world."
"That factory used to employ 1,200 folks."
"That company used to have their headquarters
right there in our town."
That's what I heard -- that used to be...
literally not figuratively.
And it didn't matter whether I was in
central Ohio or in South Carolina,
rural South Carolina.
It was always, "That used to be..."
But I still travel the country.
I've been in God knows how many states
in the last 10 months and how many cities.
But I'm hearing a different refrain now --
literally not figuratively.
The same officials, in effect the same people
doing the same kind of jobs and the people
I rode with a year ago, it always starts off with,
"You see that over there, Mr. Vice President?
That's going to be..."
"That's going to be a factory that builds the next generation
of automobiles."
"That's going to be the hub of a newer smart grid
for the nation."
"That run-down old plant, that's going to be
an oasis of affordable housing and decent housing
to raise the standard of living in this neighborhood
and the safety quotient."
"That corn mill is going to be a model
of community engagement and manufacturing excellence."
"That hospital isn't going to lay off any more
decent men and women, it's going to be providing
the best health care in the region."
"That school isn't going to close,
it's not going to close, it's going to be
a model for writing the success stories of tomorrow
while employing top-notch educators today
and encouraging learning."
Folks, you know better that I do,
an economy has never been rebuilt in a day
or even a year.
And we got a lot of rebuilding to do.
Without casting blame or aspersions at anybody,
we've ignored an awful lot of things
for the past 20 years, and particularly
the last eight years in my view.
It's going to take time.
But you've helped show us the path forward
of how to begin to rebuild this economy.
And so, on behalf of the President
of the United States, I want to congratulate each
and every one of you and all of you in the audience
for participating in this.
You all made us proud, this organization
makes us proud.
You made America proud.
And with the grace of God, as my grandfather would say,
and the good will of the neighbors
and a whole lot more hard work and the willingness
to talk about this is going to be
rather than what used to be, I think we're on the road
to rebuilding an economy that is not based
on any bubbles, that is not based upon any
ephemeral choices we made, but based on serious,
solid foundations that grow out of a health care system,
an education system and a manufacturing base
that's real and innovative.
So all I can say is God bless you all,
keep it up and may God protect our troops.
Thank you very, very much. 362 00:17:26,000 (applause)