Teenagers of America: Congress Will Use Your Ideas for Bills

That is, if they actually work.

National Journal
Elahe Izadi
See more stories about...
Elahe Izadi
April 2, 2014, 4:31 a.m.

Re­mem­ber that middle school­er with an idea to change the font the gov­ern­ment uses as a way to save tax­pay­ers mil­lions of dol­lars?

Well, it turns out, it won’t, as The Wash­ing­ton Post‘s Dav­id A. Fahrenthold found after talk­ing with the Gov­ern­ment Print­ing Of­fice. But that was after staffers for Rep. Scott Peters, D-Cal­if., looked in­to the idea for a pos­sible bill.

Here’s the back­story for those of you who don’t know about this cost-sav­ing scheme: Pitt­s­burgh middle-school wun­der­kind Suvir Mirchandani made na­tion­al news over the week­end, when he found while do­ing a sci­ence pro­ject that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment could save up­ward of $136 mil­lion if it switched its font from Times New Ro­man to Gara­mond. The reas­on­ing? The lat­ter font uses less ink, and ink is mighty ex­pens­ive.

Har­vard’s stu­dent-run Journ­al of Emer­ging In­vest­ig­at­ors pub­lished his find­ings, with a JEI founder telling CNN how “im­pressed” they were with Mirchandani’s work.

Seemed like a fant­ast­ic idea, right? Peters’s staffers thought so, too.

“We leapt at the idea to save lots of tax­pay­er money through what seems like a re­l­at­ively small change,” Peters said in an email.

So staffers checked with GPO about the pos­sible changes, and it turns out the ini­tial premise didn’t ex­actly pan out. Ap­par­ently Mirchandani’s es­tim­ated price of ink was too high, be­cause the gov­ern­ment is able to buy ink at a lower price than the av­er­age con­sumer, giv­en it uses much more of it. Ad­di­tion­ally, GPO print­ing is done with print­ing presses, and not laser or inkjet print­ers. 

Mirchandani can be for­giv­en for such over­sights. He told CNN that he had tried to get in touch with GPO about how much they ac­tu­ally spend on print­ing, but didn’t hear back un­til he had fin­ished his pro­ject.

Des­pite the font-change idea not work­ing out, Peters doesn’t want to dis­suade the na­tion’s teen­agers from pitch­ing him more ideas. “That shouldn’t dis­cour­age Amer­ic­ans of any age from let­ting elec­ted of­fi­cials know where there could be sav­ings,” he said. “Gov­ern­ment needs to en­cour­age in­nov­at­ive solu­tions from its con­stitu­en­cies, not dis­cour­age it.”

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.

Source:
×