In June 2012, the Legislature authorized the use of the construction manager/general contractor project delivery method (CM/GC) on the Green Line Extension (GLX) project. CM/GC combines several beneficial aspects of traditional design-bid-build procurement and construction management at risk, which has been widely used for vertical construction since its authorization in Massachusetts in 2004. Because CM/GC allows the MBTA to retain the construction contractor earlier in the procurement process, specifically during the design phase of the project, the MBTA anticipates that the new procurement method will provide for better coordination between the MBTA, its design team, and the construction contractor, shorten the overall delivery schedule of the project, improve the quality of design and construction, reduce errors, omissions, and conflicts, and improve accountability ofall parties.
The contracting procedures and associated legal issues of the new CM/GC procurement method represent a significant departure from the familiar design-bid-build approach. The MBTA has issued a procurement manual for the GLX project that outlines the procedures it intends to govern the CM/GC process. The MBTA has indicated that it plans to execute a construction contract with the successful CM/GC firm that will contain a negotiated guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for all required construction services. The GMP will consist of various cost elements including lump sum items, allowance items, and unit price items. Allowance items will be priced on a time and materials basis and all components of the GMP will be subject to audit by the MBTA and the Inspector General. The MBTA procurement manual indicates that the GMP (as well as any interim GMPs) may be priced based on documents that are 90 percent complete, which implies that the CM/GC firm will be expected to assume some risk of the incomplete design.
The MBTA’s CM/GC selection process will include "best-value" evaluation criteria that will allow it to consider qualifications of CM/GC firms, rather than low price alone. Because the design will not be complete at the time the CM/GC is selected, bidding on construction cost is not part of the price evaluation. The price component of the evaluation will consist of an overhead and profit multiplier that will subsequently be applied to all project costs. The price component of each CM/GC firm will be opened during the evaluation and scored across all proposers. By statute, the MBTA’s technical evaluation criteria must include minimum levels of experience, financial capability, bonding capacity, demonstrated commitment to obtaining meaningful disadvantaged business enterprise participation, and workforce diversity. The CM/GC procurement method also requires that the CM/GC firm self-perform at least 50 percent of the work with its own employees.
The use of CM/GC procurement on the GLX project is an important milestone in Massachusetts public construction that could change the way other large and complex public infrastructure projects are delivered in the future by the MBTA, MassDOT, and other public entities. Its ability to accommodate early collaboration and exchange of information among all parties involved in the project while retaining some beneficial aspects of traditional design-bid-build procurement make it an attractive option as projects become more complex. However, CM/GC is new, and the method of its implementation will be critical to its success.