26 Oct SABER Contracts 101
Before any new construction or repair project even begins, a lot of work has to be done ahead of time setting up an agreement as to how the project will be budgeted and how much it will cost. This can be a laborious and frustrating process for both the contractor as well as the offeror. Thankfully an easier alternative exists and is known as the Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineer contract, or SABER for short.
What are SABER contracts?
A SABER contract is a specific type of contract which makes use of pre-defined project specifications and parameters. Unit pricing, profit coefficients, total project budget, and design percentage are all laid out ahead of time by the terms of a SABER contract. In general these specifications are to be used as a simple framework by which most projects will follow, with exceptions or modifications being made where needed.
Many aspects of SABER contracts are dynamic and will vary depending on the location of the contract given that rates for labor, materials, and construction are different depending on the geographical area. Because of this, SABER contracts make use of industry approved, standardized rates which are set according to local price books and databases.
Why are SABER contracts useful?
Projects which are ideal candidates for a SABER contract are generally under $750k, don’t overly require specialized skills, and don’t require extensive design considerations.
Those looking to work on multiple smaller projects instead of singular larger projects will benefit the most from SABER contracts. The goal is to reduce and minimize the paperwork requirements on projects which share similar budgetary structures. Since many aspects of a SABER contract are outlined ahead of time by the contract structure, this saves time and allows for the contractor to get on with the project quicker.
In addition, SABER contracts excel when applied to straightforward projects where function is valued over form. Projects like these generally require minimal design requirements as the aesthetic beauty of finished construction is not very relevant. This means that while design still might be necessary, design can be focused entirely on completing practical project specifications.
It is also possible to have multiple contractors each with their own SABER contract working in tandem on the same project. This is best done when a larger project which would normally be unsuitable for a SABER contract is able to be broken up into smaller standalone parts. When this is done the complexity of each individual part of the project is reduced to be within the scope of SABER.
Who uses SABER contracts?
The USAF has used SABER contracts multiple times successfully in the past in order to modernize pre-existing facilities. In general the SABER structure is useful for many other government organizations as well, given that government projects more often than not seek to achieve the most efficient and economical solutions.
Many of the fundamental principles that governs the philosophy of SABER contracts, such as task modularity, unit pricing dictated by local price books, and process streamlining can be found in many other contract structures as well and can easily be adapted for use in the private sector.