Fourteen-year-old Suvir Mirchandani certainly made a splash over the weekend when he went on CNN to talk about his simple, yet effective plan to save the government millions by changing fonts on government documents. From The Washington Post:
“The government could save almost $234 million simply by switching to that one font. That’s because the font is thinner, it’s lighter, it just simply uses less ink,” Suvir Mirchandani told CNN.
Mirchandani estimated that the federal government could save $167 million from this switch, and that state and local governments could save another $67 million. The story was picked up by CNN, CBS News, Slate and many other media outlets.
It’s a cool idea and a nice example of youthful ingenuity, or it would be if Mirchandani were correct.
Experts on fonts and government printing said that Mirchandani had made a valuable point: by using more efficient fonts, it is possible to save both money and paper.
But they said he made two significant errors in his estimate of how easy it would be to convert the government to this single font–and how much money would be saved in the process. (via)
And the post proceeds to tear this kid apart in video and text form. One of the bigger things they point out is his estimate that the government burns through $460 million seems to be way off. Considering the Government Printing Office only spent $750,000 on ink last year, he might’ve been overshooting a bit.
This doesn’t even consider that his font of choice, Garamond, is cheaper because it is harder to read. On the one hand, it isn’t a proper fit for the computer screen that so many are using to read their statements in this digital age. On the other hand, the folks who are still reading physical documents are probably older and probably facing deteriorating eye sight.
It’s lose/lose for a government that wants to please everyone by pleasing no one. But don’t get yourself down, the GPO is going to review the suggestions and he still might come out smelling like roses on the other side. Let’s go back and enjoy his moment of glory on CNN. Back when he was so sure of himself and the Washington Post wasn’t sh*tting in his Cheerios.
(Via CNN / Washington Post)
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