July 16, 2018


For Immediate Release

PEN Contact:

Brian Lassiter, President

Performance Excellence Network




SDDOT Contact:

Kristi Sandal

South Dakota Department of Transportation



SDDOT Receives Recognition for Continuous Improvement

2017 Performance Excellence Award Presented by Governor Daugaard


PIERRE, SD, July 16, 2018 – At a celebration hosted by Governor Dennis Daugaard at the Capitol, the Performance Excellence Network (PEN) today honors the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) with the 2017 Performance Excellence Award.  The Award is based on the Baldrige Framework and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management and performance system.  The evaluation criteria consider leadership, strategic planning, customer-related processes, measurement and knowledge management, workforce, and operations, and recognize organizations that are systematically improving results.

Baldrige is a 30-year-old federal agency managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and exists to facilitate continuous improvement and performance excellence throughout the country; PEN is the regional Baldrige-based program serving organizations in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.  All types of organizations – businesses, hospitals, schools, nonprofits, and governmental agencies – use the Baldrige Framework to identify and prioritize improvement opportunities, focus energy, optimize resources, and improve outcomes.


The SDDOT receives the “Advancement Level” of recognition, which is the second of four levels given by PEN.  There have been 138 organizations recognized since 1991 by PEN program.  The DOT is the third in South Dakota (Avera Sacred Heart Yankton, 2011, and SD National Guard, 2014 and 2016).


“Continuous improvement is critical within all state agencies, as well as for any size and type of organization throughout South Dakota,” said Governor Dennis Daugaard at today’s event.  “As the world continues to change at an accelerating pace, systematic and deliberate improvement efforts help us remain relevant, competitive, and among the best states for quality of life in the US.  I applaud Secretary Bergquist and his team for their disciplined approach to improvement, serving as a role model for other governmental agencies as well as businesses and other types of organizations throughout the State.”

Darin Berquist, Secretary of the SDDOT, commented in accepting the Award: “The DOT has a philosophy of “Better lives through better transportation,” where all Department employees contribute to providing a high quality transportation system by continuously striving to improve the quality of services the Department offers.  For us, it’s more than a slogan – it’s a systematic way that the DOT brings its mission and focus on improvement to life, putting it in the hands of every employee in the Department.  I view this Award as just a milestone in our continued efforts to improve the work we do for the benefit of all South Dakotans and the traveling public.”


Said Brian Lassiter, president/CEO of the Performance Excellence Network: “Continuous improvement takes work – it takes a commitment of time, of resource, of energy.  It takes focus, persistence, patience, and practice.  The South Dakota DOT has demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement and performance excellence and should celebrate its strengths and its ongoing journey to excellence.”


The SDDOT was also recognized at PEN’s annual conference in the Twin Cities last May.  Two other organizations receiving recognition this year were LifeSource (South Dakota’s nonprofit organ procurement organization) and Cardinal of Minnesota (a Rochester, MN-based business that manages group homes for adults with developmental disabilities).


About Performance Excellence Network

Founded in 1987, the Performance Excellence Network (PEN), advances continuous improvement and performance excellence within organizations, individuals and communities in a three state region: South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.  PEN helps leaders identify strengths and improvement opportunities, and it builds networks that bring information, resources, knowledge and best practices to organizations desiring to improve. PEN serves over 250 members and organizations in the Upper Midwest – businesses, healthcare systems, educational institutions, nonprofits, and governmental agencies.  For more information, go to http://www.performanceexcellencenetwork.org.


About SD Department of Transportation

The SDDOT is a state agency responsible for the maintenance and operation of South Dakota’s public transportation system for approximately 835,000 citizens as well as the traveling public.  SDDOT’s operations include the construction and maintenance of the state highway system, managing and maintaining state-owned railroads, administering the rural public transit program, oversight and funding of aeronautics activities and public airports, and providing expertise and funding assistance to local government entities.  The DOT employs approximately 1000 permanent and seasonal staff.  For more information: http://www.sddot.com/


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