HACKENSACK, N.J. _ The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will pay former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff's consulting firm more than $1.2 million for a review and overhaul of the agency's security operations, under a recent extension of the firm's no-bid contract.
The Chertoff Group's contract extension, the second in six months, was quietly approved last week without discussion at a public meeting of agency commissioners.
The firm will be paid an additional $650,000, on top of the $600,000 already approved, to advise the Port Authority on the hiring of a new security director and to help create the agency's first-ever security department, a Port Authority spokesman said Wednesday.
The firm recommended those moves in March, after conducting a one-year, "top-to-bottom" review that found the Port Authority's security operations are decentralized and uncoordinated, and suffer from inadequate lines of responsibility. The Port Authority operates the region's airports, seaports and PATH rail system, and is rebuilding the World Trade Center.
The original $300,000 agreement was struck in May 2011. Agency spokesman Ron Marsico stressed that the original contract was for a study, while last week's extension was related to helping the Port Authority carry out the study's recommendations.
"The agency will assess the need for future services as this extension progresses," he said when asked if the Port Authority anticipates additional increases.
When the study was approved last May, the Port Authority said it would take six months. But in December, the contract was extended another six months and its value was doubled to $600,000, also without public discussion. The Port Authority announced the firm's findings in March.
Although no formal report was made public, the agency said the firm reviewed more than 20,000 pages of documents and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews.
Chertoff, the former U.S. attorney in New Jersey, presented the findings at a briefing that followed a board of commissioners meeting that month.
A national search for a new chief security officer is under way, and the Chertoff Group is identifying candidates, Marsico said.
Chertoff, appointed by President George W. Bush as the second Homeland Security secretary, co-founded the firm in 2009 with his former chief of staff at the federal agency, Chad C. Sweet.
Chertoff is a national security adviser to Mitt Romney. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is considered a potential Romney running mate, jointly steers the Port Authority with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.