The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is not asking Congress to allow it to redesign the $1 Federal Reserve note to incorporate the same high-tech, anti-counterfeiting features that have been on other U.S. currency notes since the mid-1990s.
That was what BEP Director Larry R. Felix told a House Finance Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade during a June 11 hearing on the future of paper money and coins.
The answer appeared to surprise the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif.
In his testimony, Felix said that the BEP was doing another currency redesign, but was specifically barred by Congress from changing the $1 bill.
Campbell said he assumed that Felix would like to have that prohibition removed so some of the anti-counterfeiting innovations could be added to the $1 note.
“We’re pretty comfortable” with the current law, Felix said.
One reason is that the $1 bill is relatively inexpensive to print, Felix said. It costs about four cents each to print a $1 bill, compared to the 12 cents for the $100 bill, which has a number of high-tech features not used on the lower denomination note.
The other reason is that counterfeiting the $1 bill has not become as big a problem as counterfeiting higher valued notes, Felix said.
Felix’s statement was one of the few snippets of news that the nearly 90-minute hearing produced.
U.S. Mint testimony
The subcommittee had apparently scheduled the hearing in part in hopes of learning how the U.S. Mint was proceeding in its study of what metals might be used to reduce the price of producing cents and 5-cent coins, both of which now cost more to manufacture than their face value.
U.S. Mint Deputy Director Richard A. Peterson told the panel that the agency’s search for new metals continues to focus on steel and zinc as possible metals.
Lead was ruled out because of environmental concerns, and aluminum has not been considered practical for U.S. coins, he said.