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CM/GC FAQs

Accelerating Project Delivery Methods - CM/GC FAQs

General Questions

What is project delivery?

Project delivery is a description of the contracting methods and relationships between the owner, designer, and contractor required to design and build a construction project. Project delivery methods include Design-Bid-Build(DBB), Design-Build(DB), and Construction Manager/General Contractor(CM/GC). The project delivery process includes: planning, budgeting, financing, environmental analysis, design, construction, and may include operations and maintenance as well.

How long does a typical transportation project take?

According to a 2002 GAO Report, Preliminary Information on the Timely Completion of Highway Construction Projects, the time required to complete an average highway project varies widely. This time will depend on the size of the project, its complexity, and the public interest in the project. Some projects may take as few as 3 years, while others may take more than 13 years.

What is the role of the transportation agency under accelerated project delivery?

State DOTs typically manage and control the full cycle of project delivery, from inception through construction. They may elect to contract with engineering consultants or construction contractors to perform various services related to the project development process

How do accelerated project delivery methods affect small businesses?

Design Build projects provide opportunities for small business (as subcontractors) to perform substantial portions of design-build projects. According to survey responses, from the FHWA's January 2006 Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of Design-Build, the roles played by small business contractors on completed design-build projects are similar to their roles on traditional building projects. from the FHWA's January 2006 Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of Design-Build, the roles played by small business contractors on completed design-build projects are similar to their roles on traditional building projects. While it has not yet been studied, CM/GC should not adversely impact small business.

Construction Manager/General Contractor Questions

What is the Construction Manager/General Contractor method?

Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) is another accelerated project delivery method. It is the middle ground between DB and DBB. In CM/GC, a single contractor has responsibility for design review, design modifications, system integration, and construction. With this project delivery method, the owner usually selects a construction management firm early in the design process (usually on the basis of qualifications or a best-value basis). As the design proceeds, the construction manager provides price information, constructability, scheduling, construction phasing, and sequencing information to the owner. At approximately 60 to 90percent design completion, the owner and the construction manager agree on a "guaranteed maximum price" for the construction of the project. If the negotiations are successful, the construction manager becomes the general contractor. If they are not able to negotiate an acceptable price, the owner has the option of completing the design and letting a traditional bid-build contract for construction.

How does CM/GC affect time-to-completion?

This method also has the potential to shorten project delivery time as the general contractor is procured during the design process. With projects that are technically complex or have challenging schedules, CM/GC fosters innovative construction means and methods that have resulted in compressed construction schedules and reduced traffic disruptions.

What is the difference between traditional project delivery and CM/GC?

The traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) delivery method involves a linear sequence of the design, advertisement, bid, and construction phases. All of the risk in DBB delivery method resides with the owner. The CM/GC delivery method allows the owner, construction manager, and designer to work together, identify the risks, and negotiate their allocation. The owner benefits from the constructability, pricing, and innovation feedback from the contractor that is incorporated into the final design package. Utah DOT experienced a change order average rate of 2.6percent on CM/GC projects in comparison with a 12percent rate on traditional DBB delivery projects.

How does CM/GC affect project design?

Because the CM/GC firm can make substantive input to the design and constructability of a project, project design is enhanced. Value engineering savings can accrue to owners in this contracting arrangement. The owner retains control over the details of design, since the owner is part of the design team. This collaboration results in better communications and fewer change orders.

What is CM/GC's impact on project costs?

There is a strong potential for lower project costs. Risks can be identified and allocated early in the project development. The owner has more control over the project scope, making it easier to stay within a fixed price. CM/GC also gives enhanced price certainty at an earlier point in design than either design-build or design-bid-build, since real time pricing information is inherent to the method. Design costs are lowered because designs can be tailored to a specific contractor"s capabilities.

Does CM/GC affect innovation? What about the working environment?

CM/GC encourages partnership and team building, which in turn fosters innovation. The project-focused nature of CM/GC also helps accelerate the implementation of innovative practices.

Does FHWA have the authority to approve the use of the CM/GC project delivery method?

While FHWA"s current statute in Title 23 USC 112 – Letting of Contracts, does not specifically provide for the CM/GC project delivery method, the FHWA may permit States to use CM/GC under Special Experimental Project Number 14 (SEP-14) in order to evaluate benefits of using CM/GC. FHWA Divisions can work with State DOTs and discuss the potential application of CM/GC projects in a State"s program. Unless CM/GC is specifically prohibited by State law, FHWA will consider requests to use CM/GC on a project or programmatic basis under SEP-14. Additional information about SEP-14 is available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/cqit/sep14.cfm

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Page last modified on August 14, 2013.
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