Teen Offers Idea to Save Government $400 Million per Year
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) American government could save $400 million a year by doing one thing: changing the typeface on its documents. According to a new study, using a thinner font could save millions of dollars in ink -- in fact, with that one small modification, federal and state governments could slash their printing budgets by nearly 25%.
But the research isn't coming out of Harvard Business School. Instead, it's originating from Dorseyville Middle School in Pittsburgh and was conducted by 14-year old Suvir Mirchandani.
What started out as a sixth-grade science fair project has now garnered national attention, something my middle school presentation on UFOs never did. It began when Mirchandani noticed just how much printed material he was handed each day way more than in elementary school. While most of us just smell the paper and then pass it on, this young man was operating at a much higher level: He thought that there must be a way to make the process more cost-efficient.
Recycled paper was a given, nearly everybody had thought of that. But reducing the amount of ink might be the trick.
So, Mirchandani enlarged a sampling of the most common letters in various typefaces, weighed them and determined the most efficient font. His conclusion: the school district could save 24% or $21,000 annually, if teachers simply switched to a thinner, more efficient font namely, the classic and stylish Garamond. Besides saving money, his study noted that the lower ink consumption would reduce environmental damage.
Not content to reduce the budget of just his local school district, young Mirchandani turned his attention to the $1.8 billion printing budget of the U.S. government.
To compute the potential savings for Uncle Sam, Mirchandani produced samples of five PDF documents by five different U.S. government agencies. The font in each sample was changed to Garamond, Times New Roman, and Century Gothic while keeping the original font sizes the same. Based on the research, he determined that a savings of 29.24% would be achieved if a switch to Garamond was made.
His study, published in the Journal of Emerging Investigators , reveals the bottom line.
"Our study estimates savings of $136 million per year if the U.S. Federal Government were to switch to Garamond," Mirchandani concludes in his paper. "Adding the savings if the state governments were to also make similar changes, the estimated total savings top $234 million per year. Times New Roman is less efficient and Century Gothic actually leads to a worse outcome."
So, no doubt our always-seeking-maximum-efficiency American government is jumping all over this, right? Gary Somerset, media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office, told CNN that Mirchandani's work was "remarkable," but was noncommittal about making a change.