Accenture’s role in Shared Services unclear to many

Madlin Mekelburg

As the University develops its Shared Services Plan, members of the UT community continue to debate the role of management-consulting company Accenture in the plan’s implementation. 

The plan, first introduced in October, consists of a set of recommendations to centralize University services. University officials said the plan calls for the elimination of 500 jobs primarily through attrition and retirement.

The Shared Services Plan came out of a report released in January 2013 by the Business Productivity Committee, a group formed to identify ways to cut costs in the University’s administrative functions. The committee was chaired by Steve Rohleder, a UT alumnus and an executive at Accenture. 

In 2006, the state of Texas outsourced the call centers for the state’s food stamps and Medicaid programs to Accenture in an effort to save money. The state terminated the contract in 2007 after issues with technical operations led to problems with benefit distributions. 

According to Kevin Hegarty, UT vice president and chief financial officer, Accenture is working with UT to determine whether implementing Shared Services would benefit the University. He said he considers Accenture to be a highly trusted resource.

“The engagement [with Accenture] is just about done,” Hegarty said. “They’re wrapping that up now. There is no doubt we will move forward, if we move into pilots — which I believe we are — with a consulting firm, but when it comes time to do that we will go out and, like we typically do, do a statement of work saying ‘here are the services we need,’ send it out into the market and let anybody and everybody that’s interested bid.”

On Monday, the Faculty Council passed a resolution which included a request for specifics regarding Accenture’s role in the Shared Services Plan. The UT Save Our Community Coalition, a collection of student organizations, will hold a press conference Thursday in protest of Accenture’s involvement in the plan.

“I think that that’s frightening that we’re willing to take such a big risk given everything we know about this company and given all of the concerns that faculty, students and staff have raised about this company,” said Bianca Hinz-Foley, Plan II junior and a student representative in the coalition.

Currently, the Business Services Committee is overseeing the implementation of Workday, a new enterprise resource planning software commonly associated with Accenture.

Mary Knight, associate vice president and a member of the Business Services Committee, said they are in the process of evaluating multiple proposals for a new Workday implementation consultant but said she could not disclose any specifics.