BART directors agreed Thursday to spend $225,000 to hire consultants to figure out how to prevent the type of problems that bedeviled its last labor contract negotiations.

Workers staged two four-day strikes last year to protest contract talks. After negotiators reached a settlement, BART said it discovered an expensive family leave benefit had been mistakenly put in the written deal.

The board hired Rhonda Hilyer of Seattle-based Agreement Dynamics Inc. to reexamine how BART negotiates contracts and the checks and balances used to prevent errors.

Hilyer will work with a BART board ad hoc committee charged with recommending ways to improve labor negotiations.

"Obviously in this last negotiation, BART was not at its finest," BART Director James Fang said in a written statement. "Today's hire will help ensure that such future inconveniences to our riders and the public are avoided."

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267 or dcuff@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff