Teen says there's a way to save the federal government millions -- down to the letter

A 14-year-old from Pittsburgh says he's found a way to save taxpayers millions of dollars, with a few mouse clicks. His idea started as a science fair project.

Whether it's Comic Sans, or Times New Roman, most people don't pay much attention to their fonts, but Suvir Mirchandani isn't most people.

He was still in middle school when he discovered that changing the typeface on printed documents can save ink, which, as it turns out, costs more per page than the paper it's printed on.

Using software that calculates ink usage, Suvir determined his Pennsylvania school district could save more than $20,000 a year.

"That's for only changing to this particular font, Garamond," he said.

The font, which is thinner and lighter uses a lot less ink, according to Suvir.

Suvir then applied the same logic to the federal government, which is slated to spend $1.8 billion on printing this year alone.

He explained to CBS News' Michelle Miller, "I found that the federal, state and local governments together could save almost $234 million. The government printing office said they would think about it."

The Government Printing Office, which handles about 50 percent of the Feds' printing needs, told CBS News it appreciates Suvir's suggestion, and will take it under review.

A spokesman for the General Services Administration said the federal government has an existing plan with font guidelines aimed at saving taxpayer dollars. Still, Suvir sees room for improvement. And, he points out, the savings aren't just for governments.

"Anyone can change their font that they're using for emails, for documents, they're printing out," Suvir said. "And that saves them personally a lot of money. "

Even if the government doesn't take his advice, the teen's parents say we can learn a lot from kids these days.

Suvir's father Prakash Mirchandani said, "Teenagers are coming up with wonderful ideas. And that's what we should try to -- as a society -- try to see how we can make the best use of their ideas."

Suvir -- who also happens to be an accomplished pianist -- is already working on a new project: a web browser for people with motor disabilities.


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