With both the 1-cent penny and 5-cent nickel costing more than double it's face value to mint, the United States government is looking to make changes and save some money.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined how his department will find savings, including $286 million in the next fiscal year, by changing the materials that go into coins, replacing paper with electronic communications and consolidating internal agencies.

Steel has been mentioned as a possible alternative metal;  The pennies would be "dipped" or "plated" with copper to retain their color.

Changing the makeup of coins and improving the efficiency of currency production will save more than $75 million in the next fiscal year. In addition, the suspension of presidential dollar coin production, announced in December, will save another $50 million.

Treasury to Cut Costs by Remaking Coins, Replacing Paper - Real Time Economics - WSJ.