In Brief

New Jersey bill for COVID-19 review nears $3M

By: - August 29, 2023 11:07 am

New Jersey has spent up to $2.9 million on a review of its handling of the pandemic, but few details are known. (Photo by Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office)

The firms reviewing New Jersey’s COVID-19 response have billed the state nearly $3 million so far, with months left before the findings are expected to reach the public, according to public records obtained by the New Jersey Monitor.

The state commissioned two firms, the Boston Consulting Group and Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, to review the state’s virus response last November, with Gov. Phil Murphy saying the long-promised review would help the state “take the steps to better prepare future administrations for a public health crisis.”

So far, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads has billed the state $932,638, according to invoices obtained through Open Public Records Act requests. And in May, the state placed $2 million into an escrow account controlled by the firm so it could pay the Boston Consulting Group.

It’s unclear how much has been paid from the escrow account.

New Jersey was among the earliest states to face COVID-19 and fared poorly in the pandemic’s early months, when thousands of residents died from the virus each week, including many in the state’s long-term care centers.

The pending review is the second New Jersey has commissioned into its virus response. An earlier review conducted by Manatt Health that probed coronavirus death tolls in the state’s nursing homes found the long-term care centers were understaffed and ill-equipped to respond to the pandemic.

The more recent review will carry a heftier price tag. Manatt’s review cost taxpayers roughly $500,000.

The review of the state’s COVID response, a long-awaited assessment, is expected to be released late this year, though it’s unclear whether the report will reach the public before November’s legislative elections.

Spokespeople for the governor declined to provide comment or a firmer timeline for the report’s release.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.

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