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CHIEF EXAMINER AND SECRETARY.
MILWAUKEE, March 1, 1898. To the Honorable the Board of City Service Commissioners:
GENTLEMEN-In compliance with custom, I herewith have the honor of presenting to you a report of the operations of this department during the twelve months from March 1, 1897, to February 28, 1898, inclusive, the financial portion, however, covering the period from January i to December 31, 1897, inclusive, to correspond with the fiscal year of the city.
Throughout the civilized nations public reports are appreciated not alone for the fullness and accuracy of statistical compilations and calculations, but equally as much or more for the embodiment in them of observations and conclusions drawn from the facts collected. I have, therefore, taken the liberty of digressing somewhat from the dry ruts of general custom by adding some remarks that seem called for to render a more complete and fair presentation of the objects of the reform, their practical realization by the Commission, the working of the Milwaukee system, and its obstruction by the limitations of existing conditions.
A large amount of work had to be laid over from the previous year (1896) on account of insufficient office help, among which may be mentioned the transfer of all the former entries from the old to the new set of specially prepared blank books for the eligible lists and civil lists of both the official and labor service, which transfer required the careful writing of 23,007 separate column entries and their subsequent collation as to orthography, dates and other details.
The Mayors from time to time received inquiries from other City Governments for statistics respecting the number of officials and employes in the City Service, to give which with some degree of accu
racy and without a large expense of time and labor had been impossible heretofore. When such an inquiry was turned over to this department our new system of registration books, covering all departments of the municipal service, made it possible to give complete and correct information at short notice, and our facilities for doing so have since then been further improved.
The development of our present method of preparing rating sheets, intended to afford opportunity for a thorough and rapid investigation of all the steps taken in arriving at the final average of any applicant at any time, even by future Commissioners or Secretaries not familiar with the work, was a matter of slow growth. The results attained seem to have met with the approval of the Board, although there is probably room for further improvement, as there is in all affairs human.
It is a still more difficult undertaking to elaborate a detailed system for the marking of examination papers, because every different class and every new examination develops new points of view. To combine all the experiences gained, in prescriptions so clear and thorough that different persons intrusted with the extremely delicate task of marking examination papers may arrive at approximately like results, requires further observations and thoughtful consideration.
There never has been any opportunity or excuse for idling away time in this office; nor will there be in the future. The work planned was at no time finished, and new vistas are continually opening for better systematization to facilitate rapid and reliable action in official contact with other departments, in the arrangement for examinations, and the development of better methods of marking and averaging.
A great deal of the time of your Chief Officer has been robbed by the intrigues and assaults set on foot during the past year against the Board, by investigations connected therewith, and by correspondence with people who ask for application blanks or information as to the nature of coming examinations and questions, instead of applying personally at the office.
Applications have frequently been sent in by mail. This is a practice that should not be tolerated, because the blanks are often erroneously or imperfectly filled out. This department can not afford to waste time for correspondence in such cases, nor write long letters to give information desired. If applicants call at this office personally for information it will be cheerfully given, the manner of filling out blanks explained, and the attention of applicants directed at once to errors or omissions in the application.
The Revised Rules adopted by the Board January 9, 1897, and approved by his honor Mayor Wm. G. Rauschenberger January 12, 1897, have not been changed since.
Both houses of the State Legislature merit the sincere thanks of all friends of Civil Service Reform for the amendments to the City Civil Service Act adopted at the session of 1897, by which you have been enabled to do more justice to the cause and conduct the business of the department with more satisfaction to the various departments as well as to yourself, than formerly.
The full tax levy allowed the Milwaukee Board under the Act of 1897 for the past year would have been $4,108.33.
Owing to the fact that much voluntary work was done for the Board without pay before the amendment of the law of 1895 went into effect in April, 1897, and in order to give an example of economy at a time when retrenchment in municipal expenditures seemed particularly necessary, the Board, in determining the budget, asked only for a tax levy of $3,700.
Through rigid economy and the acceptance of more voluntary work, it was made possible to report a balance in the City Civil Service Fund on December 31, 1897, of $279.65, which balance was turned back into the General City Fund.
All obligations of the year 1897 were paid on or before December 31, 1897. The account balanced accurately and corresponded with that of the Comptroller.
STATEMENT FOR THE YEAR
Balance on hand January 1, 1897.
53 80 3,700 00
DISBURSEMENTS. 1. Printing and printed stationery.. 2. Typewriter supplies.. 3. Mimeograph supplies. 4. Other stationery. 5. Office fixtures and furniture. 6. Telephone service...... 7. Advertising examinations in official newspapers. 8. Postage stamps and postal cards... 9. Salaries and wages...
Balance turned back into the general city fund
$279 65 699
APPROXIMATE RECORD OF WORK IN THE
CITY SERVICE OFFICE.
Performed March 1, 1897, to February 28, 1898.
8 Applications in the Common Labor Service..
273 Oral examinations of Common Laborers. Applications in the Skilled Labor Service.. Oral examinations in the Skilled Labor Service... Notices for examinations (official) sent out....
873 Requests for information sent out to persons referred to by applicants 1,962 Certifications to Comptroller of changes in Official and Labor Service.. 420 Column entries transferred from old to new set of registers..
23,007 The new set of registers is intended to suffice for at least five years, ruled, printed and bound to order according to a new system which was subsequently adopted for the Civil Lists of the city by the City Comptroller, so that now the registry of the Comptroller's Department and the City Service Department may be readily compared and discrepancies between the pay rolls of all departments and the civil lists can be detected more easily. In 1897 they were compared from time to time, in 1898 every month, and it is the intention of the City Service Department hereafter to make monthly comparisons a regular part of the routine.
The immediate object of Civil Service Reform is the improvement of the public service as to quality and economy, and the prevention of those forms of corruption growing out of the spoils system; its more remote but most important aim is to increase the strength of the ethical structure of our free institutions, upon which the future welfare and very existence of our nation must depend. No one can be a true patriot unless he is an enemy of all corrupt practices in our political activities, practices that have destroyed nearly all republican governments from earliest historic time to a recent date, and are a serious menace to our own. And hence no one can be a patriot in the best sense of the word who is not a staunch advocate and supporter of a civil service system, honestly and impartially carried out.
Many good, honest citizens to-day believe themselves to be opposed to civil service reform, who are in fact advocates of its true aims, and only opposed to seeming or real imperfections and abuses that have