Marine consultants hired to review Steamship Authority operations delivered the fifth and final piece of their critique last week, detailing shortcomings in the boat line’s public communications, and won a new contract to help carry out their overall recommendations.

At a special meeting in Hyannis on Saturday, SSA governors voted 3-1 to award an additional $135,000 contract to Seattle-based HMS Consulting, whose $218,000 assessment of the SSA found serious deficiencies in the management structure and culture of the organization.

Governors will meet again Tuesday in Falmouth for their regular monthly meeting. The agenda includes an update on the Woods Hole terminal reconstruction project.

On Saturday, HMS president John Sainsbury — speaking by video conference — outlined the findings included in a recently released report from Rigor Analytics assessing the boat line’s communications. Delayed by two and half months, the 25-page report was the final piece of a five-part evaluation of the ferry system that also looked at vessel operations, fleet management, information technology and management structure.

Partly a rehash of the overall study that came out in December, the addendum report found that the Steamship Authority’s methods for communicating with the public, especially in times of crisis such as in the spring of 2018, have been clumsy and ineffective. But it was not for lack of trying, Mr. Sainsbury said.

“Everything that we saw, every indication we had, was that the SSA and their leadership took their responsibility seriously,” he told governors.

“There was no evidence that they were trying to avoid communicating anything to the public, that they were trying to avoid being transparent, or that it was not a priority,” he continued. “In most cases, it was just the systems that were being utilized that did not serve them well.”

For example, he said SSA senior managers have been inclined to over-share by providing detailed accounts of ferry breakdowns after the fact.

“We found that they were trying to communicate too much,” the consultant said, referring to the lengthy press releases and emails written by general manager Bob Davis that went out last spring during the unprecedented spate of breakdowns and service interruptions.

“In times of crisis you want to focus on just the bare necessities of information. You can follow up later with more details on the incident, but more timely and more frequent information is much more critical,” Mr. Sainsbury said.

Nevertheless, he said the SSA is still ahead of some of its peers when it comes to communications.

“We’ve seen how a lot of other ferry operations around the country address [public communications], and sometimes the will and the interest is not there,” Mr. Sainsbury said.

He also praised the boat line for taking steps to hire a communications director, calling it an important step forward. But he said the SSA still needs to standardize its messages, from delays and cancellations to more serious breakdowns, in order to reach passengers as quickly as possible.

Beyond communications in times of crisis, the Rigor report notes that currently the boat line has no signs telling passengers where to board ferries or buses, or to announce delays. It recommends better static signs, well as LED boards in terminals to inform travelers of the latest departure and arrival times.

The report also points to the lack of a defined procedure for issuing alerts when service is disrupted.

“. . . the internal email system used to send messages from the vessel to shore is slow and has intermittent connectivity. As a result, marine personnel onboard the vessels with communication duties primarily utilize mobile phones and two-way radios to update terminals and ticketing agents regarding system delays, thus leaving some operations staff out of the communications loop at early critical stages,” the report says.

Onshore, as well, “the SSA messages the public using a communications system that does not reach all of the desired audience,” consultants said.

Along with using social media networks, which the boat line had generally disregarded until this year, the report advises that when selling tickets, the SSA should collect travelers’ contact information for text messages.

Overall, Mr. Sainsbury said, improvements to communications fall under the same set of overall recommendations his company made in December.

“We did not identify any new final recommendations,” he said.

Moving to a process-based management system — the first of four final recommendations from HMS — would include setting up the communications protocols that currently don’t exist, Mr. Sainsbury said.

Establishing a mission statement, company objectives and a strategic plan — all part of another key recommendation — would equip the SSA to plan and execute clearer, more effective messaging.

As part of its new contract with the boat line, Mr. Sainsbury said, HMS would be open to different ways of meeting the objectives outlined in the original report.

The decision to rehire HMS to assist the boat line to implement the recommendations in its report came over the strong objection of New Bedford governor Moira Tierney opposed hiring HMS again.

“They shouldn’t have an exclusive,” she said. “This report today wasn’t anything we didn’t already know, and we waited months and months and months for it.

Stephen M. Sayers, recently-retired SSA general counsel who remains on contract, responded that HMS is working on a “time and materials basis.”

“Their effective hourly rate is under $200, which is pretty good — it’s excellent,” he said, adding that the SSA could get started with HMS right away instead of going through the process of another request for proposals.

Vineyard governor Marc Hanover agreed with Mr. Sayers, but Ms. Tierney was unmoved.

“That’s huge, that they were that late, in what is probably our number one area of complaint,” she said. “I can’t support it.”

Nantucket governor Robert Ranney and Barnstable governor Robert Jones joined Mr. Hanover in voting to award the contract to HMS. There was no representative for Falmouth present at the meeting, but Falmouth selectmen voted Monday to appoint lawyer and Woods Hole resident Kathryn Wilson to the five-member board. She replaces Betsy Gladfelter, who failed to earn reappointment.

Also on Saturday, governors voted to approve two new positions recommended in the HMS report: director of marine operations and director of health, safety, quality assurance and environmental protection. The question of whether to hire a chief operating officer did not come up at the meeting. The HMS report strongly recommends that a COO position be created as a key step in overhauling the boat line management structure by spreading out responsibility more at the top.