IMRF Receives Malcolm Baldrige Award

November 14, 2019

OAK BROOK, Ill. — We are pleased to announce that IMRF is a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. A Presidential-level honor, the award recognizes exemplary U.S. organizations and businesses that demonstrate an unceasing drive for radical innovation, thoughtful leadership, and administrative improvement. 

IMRF is the first public pension fund in the nation to receive our country’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence.  Not only are we in rare company among the best of the best in the nation, but this award shows that we are leading the way for excellence in the public pension industry.  Of the more than 7.6 million U.S. businesses, less than 1% have received this distinction, with only 121 total winners over the last three decades. 

This is a tremendous honor for IMRF.  It is the culmination of a decade-long journey toward organizational excellence that includes the achievement of multiple honors at the state level. We first began integrating the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence into the way we do business in 2008.

IMRF Executive Director Brian Collins received news of the award on Tuesday, during a call with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "It is because of our commitment to excellence and to continuously improving how we serve our members and employers that we have reached this pinnacle in IMRF’s Journey of Excellence,” said Collins. “We are incredibly proud of this accomplishment."

IMRF Receives Baldrige Award from IMRF on Vimeo.

A national distinction from the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Baldrige Program:

Over the last 10 years, IMRF has analyzed, evaluated, and improved the organization in many ways, using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as a guide. Some of these improvements include redesigning the organization’s strategic-planning process and leadership system, expanding our customer feedback and surveying program, and benchmarking performance against peers from both the public and private sectors. These improvements ultimately benefit our members and employers. IMRF ranks within the top 15% of North American public pensions for cost-effective customer service

IMRF’s journey will not stop here. We will use insights gained from Baldrige’s review and feedback process to continue improving and striving for excellence.  We will also be active in sharing our best practices with other interested organizations who are on their own journeys to excellence.

The Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 and is not given for specific products or services. Since the first group was recognized in 1988, 129 awards have been presented to 121 organizations (including eight repeat winners).


Headquartered in Oak Brook, IMRF is the 48th largest retirement plan in the United States and the best-funded, statewide public pension plan in the Land of Lincoln. Neither funded nor managed by the State of Illinois, IMRF has partnered with local units of government since 1941 to provide retirement, disability, and death benefits for public employees. With a funded status of 90% and approximately $42.7 billion in assets (as of 9/30/19), IMRF is financially-sound and sustainable. As Illinois’ second-largest pension plan, IMRF serves approximately 429,000 members in nearly 3,000 units of government, including counties, cities, towns, villages, libraries, park districts, and non-teaching personnel in local school districts. IMRF’s diversified portfolio includes domestic and international equities, fixed income, real estate, and alternative investments. The average member who retired in 2018 is receiving a monthly pension of $1,653.