subcommittee that created the organization's current benchmarking contract. It even recycled Washington's RFP, tweaking it to meet the needs of a 50-state contract.

Even before Washington state's high-profile project, the state's Department of Transportation made its own financial, IT and HR benchmarking effort with The Hackett Group in 2000. The project resulted in lukewarm satisfaction from the agency -- varying by organization and management level.

"Overall, I think it was a relatively fair report," said Marcy Yates, chief of accounting for the Department of Transportation, who dealt with the financial benchmark study.

"As we saw a draft, we would ask questions on, 'Well, why does this look this way? That's not our impression of this' -- so it was a lot of back and forth," Yates said, adding that she had mixed feelings about the project.

"It was a lot of work," she said. "It took a lot of people in our agency a lot of time to gather the information, but we felt we got some things out of it too. We got flow charts, we got numbers, we got information, and that in itself was useful. It may have just been the spirit we had going into it."

NASACT's Poynter said two other unnamed states were on the verge of joining the NASACT contract -- they are still arranging for funding.

"Our goal was to get five or six going the first year, and let this thing gain some momentum," Poynter said. "This is a pretty big project in a new area for state governments, especially our members. We want to get one or two under our belts, and see what the results are."

Andy Opsahl  | 

Andy Opsahl is a former staff writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.