USM Teams with Accenture

Improve System's Effectiveness and Efficiency

ADELPHI MD-The University System of Maryland (USM) has contracted with Accenture to identify opportunities to reduce costs and achieve greater efficiency in the 13-institution public higher education system. Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.

"This project is extremely important to the future of the University System of Maryland and the state," said Clifford Kendall, chairman of the USM Board of Regents. "With constrained fiscal resources and the board's unwavering commitment to ensure that students have affordable access to USM institutions of high quality, we must redouble our efforts to achieve even greater efficiencies."

Accenture's work will yield recommendations to help the university system reduce operating costs and identify alternative revenue sources. Specific tasks include:

  • Evaluating and assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of existing operations, with particular emphasis on finance and accounting, human resources and payroll, information technology, procurement, student services, and facilities utilization and maintenance operations;

  • Identifying opportunities for cost savings and revenue generation;

  • Considering revisions to current administrative policies and practices that would increase the efficiency of business processes;

  • Considering methodologies for monitoring and reporting on the financial and qualitative impact of effectiveness and efficiency measures; and

  • Providing a cost/benefit analysis for each recommended strategy.

This agreement with Accenture comes at a time when state support for USM has dropped 14 percent since FY 2003, from $868 million to its current FY 2004 level of $746 million. At the same time, mandatory costs, such as health coverage and accommodating student enrollment growth, increased the budget gap by an additional $84 million.

To cover the resulting $206 million budget gap, the system implemented several money-saving measures, including eliminating positions, reducing academic offerings, eliminating low-productivity programs, and deferring maintenance.

The system also is containing costs by expanding the use of distance education, using the system's buying power to create deep discounts on purchases of computer equipment and other goods and services, and expanding energy conservation programs.

"USM has done an excellent job of containing costs so far, but it continues to operate under severe budget pressures," said Accenture partner Richard T. Wheeler. "We intend to leverage our experience and capabilities to help take USM to the next level and recommend new strategies for improving efficiency and further reducing costs."

"We've worked hard to use available resources as efficiently as possible," said USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan. "Now, we are eager to do even more with the help of Accenture's universally recognized expertise.

"In this fiscal environment, if we are going to build the system's reputation for high-quality and affordable education opportunities, exceptional research programs, and services that meet our state's critical needs, we must ensure maximum use of every available dollar through expanded efficiency initiatives."

USM's contract with Accenture, which is valued at approximately $197,000, specifies that Accenture will deliver its recommendations to USM by Aug. 30, 2004.

Contact: Anne Moultrie

Phone: 301/445-2722