Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Construction Manager / General Contractor

An overview of CM / GC relationship and process

Orange barrels on a highway

Construction Manager / General Contractor Overview


Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC) project delivery is an integrated approach to planning, design and construction.  Owners, designer(s), and contractors work collaboratively to develop the project scope, optimizing the design, improve quality, and manage cost. Designer(s), and contractors work collaboratively to develop the project scope, optimizing the design, improve quality, and manage cost.

During the design stage, the CMGC assists the owner with developing the project scope to meet the budget, optimizing the design to reduce costs, and improve quality through innovation.  

When the design is nearing completion, the contractor and owner enter into a construction contract. Instead of transferring risk in DB or DBB contracts, MnDOT and the CMGC work collaboratively to reduce the overall project risk through a negotiated contract. 

Benefits of CMGC

  • Innovation – Contractor input into the design process
  • Cost Management - Contractors provide real-time cost information
  • Design Savings – Reduced design effort  
  • Design Control– MnDOT retains control of the design, with contractor input
  • Construction Risk – Constructions risks mitigated during project development
  • Cost Certainty – Higher final cost certainty earlier in the project
  • Time Savings – Able to deliver early work packages similar to DB


  • Transparency – Contractor may be selected based on qualifications
  • Cost Validation – Negotiated versus bid contract  
  • Culture– New process for Mn/DOT staff
  • Risk – Limited use in heavy highway construction

MnDOT Authority

How does CMGC Contract Work?

Early in the design phase, MnDOT will issue a Request for Proposals to interested CMGC firms.  The firms will be selected based primarily on their qualifications, but may include a price component. 

Once selected, MnDOT will enter into a professional / technical contract with the CMGC to assist with project development.  Potential tasks under this contract include conducting constructability reviews, participating in value engineering, risk assessments, providing feedback on costs, assisting with third party coordination (utilities, railroad) and working with the designers to optimize the cost and efficiency of the project.

As the design becomes finalized, MnDOT and the CMGC will enter into negotiations to construct the project.  An independent estimate is completed to assist in validating the CMGC price and MnDOT’s engineering estimate.  The CMGC construction contract will look very similar to a design-bid-build contract.  

MnDOT and the CMGC also have the option to negotiate and construct smaller work packages within project.  For example, the CMGC may see a need to procure items with long lead times in order to meet the schedule.  Or, the CMGC may see a need to relocate utilities, clear and grub, or build cross-overs in advance of the larger project.  This contract mechanism allows for the advancement of these project components before the larger project begins.  
If MnDOT and the CMGC are unable to negotiate a price, MnDOT reserves the right to competitively bid the project work.   The CMGC will be allowed bid with other competitors. 


Innovation has improved quality, reduced costs, and minimized construction impacts on recent design-build (DB) projects.  But the risk transfer of DB is not desirable on all projects. 

Traditional design-bid-build (DBB) delivery methods allow for limited opportunities to incorporate contractor innovation.  At the same time, nearly all of the project risk remains with Mn/DOT. 

A third project delivery tool, Construction Manager / General Contractor (CMGC) combines the innovation of design-build contracting, but allows MnDOT to control the ultimate design.