Chicago Department of Aviation

Understanding the Business Process

O’Hare 21 Program Entities

The City of Chicago is the owner and operator of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (O’Hare).

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is the delegated City department responsible for the administration and operations of all aspects of O’Hare and Midway International Airports.

The CDA provides oversight and management of the Construction Managers at-Risk through the Program Management Organization (PMO), Connect Chicago Alliance (CCA). Connect Chicago Alliance, as the CDA’s PMO, assists the CDA in the overall management of the airport’s capital improvement plan. CCA acts as the administrative and technical oversight of the Construction Managers at-Risk on behalf of the CDA as the owner’s representative.

The Construction Managers at-Risk

​​AECOM Hunt Clayco Bowa​, A Joint Venture – www.A​
Austin Power Partners – Austin Commercial, Power Construction and Ujamaa Construction –
​​​​Turner Paschen Aviation Partners – Turner Construction, F.H. Paschen, SPAAN Tech, d’Escoto Incorporated, GMA and Brown & Momen –

​​​​Clark Construction-W.E. O’Neil (COT3) is committed to equity in contracting participation. As a Construction Manager at-Risk partner, COT3 works closely with Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms for the federally funded Terminal 3 Improvements Project. In contracting work, DBE goals are set to support firms owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.


There are a variety of methods for delivering construction projects, such as the traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) method and alternate delivery methods such as Design-Build (DB), or Construction Manager at-Risk (CMAR).

DBB is the most common construction project delivery method. Utilizing this method, the owner hires an architect/engineer to design a project. The 100% design is bid out to general contractors. A contract is awarded to the general contractor submitting the lowest responsive and responsible bid. Utilizing the DB alternate delivery method, the owner procures a single entity to provide design and construction services. The DB firm is selected based upon adherence performance requirements and qualifications.

The CMAR services are provided in two phases. During first phase, or preconstruction, the CMAR collaborates with the architect/engineer to provide estimates of construction cost and construction schedule duration. The CMAR also collaborates with the owner to identify value engineering and cost-saving opportunities as the design develops. During the second phase, the construction phase, the CMAR procures the construction or trade packages to perform as a general contractor while acting on behalf of the owner to ensure the design is constructed in accordance with plans and specifications. The CMARs develop and procure the trade packages, and the CMAR holds the subcontractors’ trade package construction contracts. The CMAR also acts as the construction manager, responsible for subcontractor management, expedited field direction, leading onsite safety programs, quality assurance and more.


The CMAR method is a great benefit to the CDA, as the CDA retains all design oversight and decisions while the design is delivered for a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) and established schedule by the CMAR. The CMAR is responsible for the risk during construction. This method also excels at delivering construction on an aggressive program schedule, while leveraging the CMARs’ construction expertise during design. This provides for greater cost and schedule certainty and maximizes opportunities for firms throughout Chicago, of all sizes, to get involved in O’Hare 21.

O’Hare 21 incorporates the unbundling of the trade packages, bringing with it, opportunities for small- to mid-size business involvement that might otherwise not be feasible. By releasing packages that are specific in size and scope, the CMARs secure the best fit for the work, and help create pathways for firms to grow and expand their capabilities working with complex projects at the world’s busiest operational airport.


The CMARs are experienced working at O’Hare and its unique environment. They are well-versed in assisting subcontractors, helping those involved to navigate and understand the steps and protocols involved so bids are submitted with accuracy and the prequalification application process completed. Through seminars, workshops, training and outreach, the CMARs provide guidance and mentoring that help build confidence for smaller subcontractors to perform work under future CDA contracts. Topics include:

  • Applying and Obtaining Airfield Credentials to Work at the Airport
  • Working Inside the Fenceline: It’s Not a Barrier to Complete Work, Just a Security Measure
  • Coordinating Daily Work Activities with Airport Stakeholders
  • Driving Privileges and Deliveries


The City of Chicago is constantly growing and innovating, attracting more visitors each year. The aviation industry is anticipating passenger volumes to double, which means airports like O’Hare and Midway, must keep up with leading infrastructure that can stand the test of time and meet the demands of modern travelers. This creates an unprecedented opportunity to create new partnerships and economic development opportunities for Chicago-area MBEs, WBEs and other small- and mid-sized businesses and contractors that have the skills, talent and drive to help make O’Hare the airport of the future. The City and the CDA are committed to expanding diversity and equity throughout every phase of O’Hare 21.

That’s why the CDA and its Construction Manager at-Risk partners are looking to recruit talent to ensure that not only the work gets done on-time and on-budget, but expands opportunities to help companies and firms both grow their business and expertise. We encourage any interested businesses to learn more about qualifying for work throughout the course of the next phases of O’Hare 21.

For subcontractors and suppliers that wish to bid on a trade package, performing work for a CMAR, a prequalification assessment is the first step. All businesses and suppliers interested in participating in a project are encouraged to begin the prequalification process with each CMAR as soon as possible so that they are ready, prior to the trade bid announcement.


To support economic growth, workforce development, increased competition in City contracts, and encourage greater diversity in the pipeline of businesses that bid on and earn City contracts, the City has a number of programs and incentives available to bidders.

For O’Hare 21, bidders are permitted to submit bids to the CMARs utilizing bid incentives. These bid Incentives are percentages applied to the total base bid at the time of the bid. The contract is awarded for the full total base bid, with the bid amount evaluated with applicable bid incentives.

Bid incentives can include:

Several DPS programs may also be available to bidders on O’Hare 21, including:

Bidders and their subcontractors are required to report verifiable data in compliance with the incentive requirements, such as proof of MBE, WBE, BEPD, VBE, proof of hours worked by employees, and proof of a subcontractor’s place of business. Failure to meet commitments made to obtain an incentive without proof of circumstances, may result in fines.

Additional information on bid incentives and programs is available at:


Workforce requirements are in place for firms and contractors to preform work on O’Hare 21. It is important that trade package subcontractors working on, or seeking work, are aware and familiar with these requirements, including the Municipal Code of Chicago.

The Municipal Code of Chicago requires that 50% or more of the work hours performed on O’Hare 21 valued at $100,000 or more must be performed by workers who are residents of the City. It also requires a minimum 7.5% or more of the work hours performed, be performed by residents of the “project area.” The City-defined Community Areas Map is the source that identifies these project areas. The areas are not defined by ZIP codes. The map is available at

Compliance with the City and project area residency requirements is monitored by DPS in conjunction with the CDA. Non-compliance with these requirements may result in liquidated damages for the contractor.


With their proposal, bidders and their subcontractors are required to furnish proof of ability and willingness to provide the bonds and insurance required by the contract. For certain bids, the CMAR may provide Subcontractor Default Insurance (SDI) in lieu of requiring a payment and performance bond. The CMAR determines this after bid opening and prior to award.


The CMAR and its subcontractors are required to provide and maintain insurance coverages specified by the contract until project completion and during specified time periods following final completion. The City may elect to have an Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP), however, all potential subcontractors must show proof of insurance coverage during the enrollment process. The following are examples of types of insurance coverage that may be required:

  • Automotive Liability (Primary and Umbrella)
  • Builder’s Risk
  • Commercial General Liability (Primary and Umbrella)
  • Contractors Pollution Liability
  • Excess/Umbrella
  • Installation Floater Insurance
  • Professional Liability
  • Railroad Protective Liability
  • Workers Compensation and Employer’s Liability (Primary and Umbrella)

All CMARs have project-wide goals for O’Hare 21 for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) firm participation. These goals are defined on a trade package-by-trade package basis in order to meet the overall contract goals set by the City of Chicago,

CMARs conduct introductory meetings with various City assist agencies. A key component of these meetings is discussion of the prequalification process so that the contracting community, specifically MBEs, WBEs, SBEs, BEPDs and VBEs, understand the process, allowing firms to become engaged and participate immediately. To support the programs the City offers for small- and medium-sized businesses, the CMARs set aside trade packages exclusively for these certified firms, helping to create capacity and expand the market for these companies. The CMARs also utilize the City-established bid incentives and programs, encouraging the use of certified firms. Outreach events are also available for more information gathering and networking.


Payments for prime subcontractors are provided based on an implemented payment management system. The portal, software, training and support is coordinated and provided by each CMAR.

This process includes submission, review, and approval via the payment management software used by the CMAR. Detailed documents include:

  • Payment Application Form
  • Contractor’s Sworn Statement Form
  • Certified Payrolls (from all tiers and subcontractors)
  • MBE and WBE Status Report Form
  • Lien Waivers (from all tiers and subcontractors)
  • Listing (stored materials backup for on or offsite materials)


Retention is not held on O’Hare 21. Once all contract terms have been met and forms submitted, such as a completed punchlist, closeout documents, etc., final payment is released to the prime contractor.


The 50/50 Payment Program is an accelerated payment initiative for CMARs working on CDA projects for monthly invoices valued at $1M or more. The program provides expedited cash flow to CMARs, their subcontractors and suppliers, by providing an initial 50% payment while pay application documentation is being approved. The CMAR can submit and be paid on 50% of their monthly invoice with completion of a few forms (i.e. schedule of earned work). The CDA and CMARs continue to develop initiatives and mechanisms to help subcontractors receive payment in an efficient and timely manner. Additional programs may also be available through each specific CMAR.