A 14-year-old student, named Suvir Mirchandani, has come up with a "why didn't I think of that" way to save the US government $400 million annually.
In a science fair project Suvir was looking for ways to cut down on waste and reduce expenditures for his middle school. Interested in computer science and in helping reduce our impact on the environment, Suvir decided to investigate how he could help reduce the amount of paper and ink the school was using. He came up with the standard improvements, such as printing in duplex and using recycled paper, but he also came across a novel idea: change the font.
By concentrating on the most commonly used letters (e, t, a, o and r) he determined the amount of ink required to print in four different fonts: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. He found that by using Garamond, his school could reduce its ink consumption by 24% or about $21,000 annually.
He then scaled this up to the US government, using several publicly available governmental sources. The US federal government's annual cost of ink is $467 million and the estimated saving would be around 30% or $136 million per year. If state governments are included in the calculation then the saving comes in at around $400 million per year. Since the font is thinner it would also increase the density of words on a page and thus cut down on paper usage too - something which hasn't been added to the savings total.
There is no word if the US government will be taking Suvir's suggestion on-board but in tough economical times where expenditure savings are always welcome - it would seem to make sense for this to be looked at.
Of course, these savings could also be achieved at any other institution - it doesn't just have to be the US government! Perhaps you're in charge of marketing or you're the IT guy at a company - could you see your company moving to a new default font to cut costs?