March 21, 2007

Colorado, Massachusetts, and Mississippi Honored For Peak Effectiveness in Finance Operations By NASACT, The Hackett Group, and Accenture

At Annual NASACT Conference States Receive Awards For Top-Quartile Effectiveness Based on Hackett Benchmark Results

BIRMINGHAM, Ala, March 21, 2007 - The National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT) has announced that three states - Colorado, Massachusetts, and Mississippi - have been named as winners of NASACT Benchmark Achievement Awards for achieving top-quartile effectiveness in finance operations.

The awards, which are being given jointly by NASACT, The Hackett Group (NASDAQ: ANSR) and Accenture (NYSE: ACN) at the National Association of State Comptrollers Annual Conference here, are based on the results of finance benchmarks performed by The Hackett Group. These three states achieved levels of finance effectiveness that place them in the top 25% of Hackett's database of performance metrics.

Over the past 14 years, Hackett has performed more than 3,500 benchmark studies at 2,100 of the world's leading organizations. A total of 19 benchmarks in 9 states have been performed or are underway since the program was launched by NASACT, Hackett, and Accenture in 2005.

Hackett's benchmarks in finance and other back-office areas are designed to measure both efficiency and effectiveness. In effectiveness, the benchmarks look at performance in key areas such as overall quality, information access, and strategic alignment. For example, Hackett's research shows that finance organizations that demonstrate top-quartile effectiveness spend 25% more time on analysis, and less time on data collection, than typical organizations. Program and Service Cost analyses are also more likely to be on-target. Financial and Operational Performance reports are more forward-looking and generally available with online tools. Suppliers and internal customers are more likely to be able to access information online.

"We applaud the accomplishments of these three states, and acknowledge the commitment to excellence that has enabled them to achieve this milestone," said NASACT Executive Director Kinney Poynter. "These awards demonstrate that public sector finance professionals can operate at the same level as their corporate peers. While the goals of a state are very different from those of a corporation, the underlying finance best practices are surprisingly similar."

Hackett Senior Vice President Jeffrey S. Rosengard said, "These awards show that the quest for world-class efficiency and effectiveness is not limited to the corporate world. These states have made real strides toward achieving world-class performance, and the levels of effectiveness they've been able to achieve are quite admirable. Most importantly, for all three of these states, these benchmark results are simply the latest step forward. All three are planning to use these benchmarks as a starting point for even more improvements. We've helped them by providing empirical data that enables them to compare themselves to each other, and to the best corporate performers."

"While the underlying finance processes can be very similar to those at corporations, states face unique challenges when it comes to making improvements," said Mark Howard, a director in the Finance and Administration practice of Accenture's State and Local Government group. "This makes the performance of these three states all the more impressive. We applaud their efforts, and the commitment to process improvement that these states, and others that have participated in our benchmarking program, have shown."

According to Colorado State Controller Leslie M. Shenefelt, "This award makes us feel great about our organization. We thought we were doing well, and had good processes and people in place. But this benchmark has confirmed it, and will also help us focus on areas that need improvement. We're just beginning the process of considering how to replace our aging accounting system, and with these results we better understand what our needs are, and are in a position to build a stronger business case."

Massachusetts Comptroller Martin Benison said, "We consider ourselves a very forward-thinking government agency, and it's great to see that the initiatives we've focused on, including a Web-based finance system, put us in the peak effectiveness bracket by Hackett's standards. There's a lot more we feel we can learn, and we're now taking a deeper dive into our practices for both payables and receivables, to identify strategies to improve both effectiveness and efficiency."

Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration Chief Systems Information Officer Cille Litchfield said that her state plans to use the benchmark results for the continued refinement of the State's business processes and in their exploration of "what's next". "We also performed Hackett benchmarks in IT, HR, and procurement at the same time," said Ms. Litchfield. "This has provided us with some excellent synergy and comprehensive baseline data about our operational performance. This effort has helped us confirm problems we knew we had, identify issues we were not aware of, and clearly quantify where our improvement efforts are succeeding."

About Hackett

The Hackett Group, a strategic advisory firm, is a global leader in best practice research, benchmarking, and business transformation services that enable world-class performance across selling, general & administrative (SG&A) and supply chain activities. Hackett provides strategic insight, best practice advice and implementation services grounded in performance metrics obtained through 14 years and 3,500 benchmark studies at 2,100 of the world's leading organizations.

More information on The Hackett Group is available: by phone at (770) 225-7300; by e-mail at; or on the Web at

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 146,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$16.65 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2006. Its home page is


The National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers is the professional organization of the chief finance officials in the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. Organized in 1915 as a vehicle for state auditors, comptrollers and treasurers to share the experiences and challenges of financial management of state government, NASACT now provides educational and research services to its members, organizes a variety of conferences to meet members' needs, and serves as the voice of state finance officers before Congress and in the executive branch of the federal government. The Association maintains its headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, and a Washington office in the Hall of the States in the nation's capital. Its Web site is