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THIRTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT
UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION.
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 30, 1897. SIR: The civil-service act approved January 16, 1883, provided for the classification for purposes of open competitive examination of certain places in the departmental service and in custom-houses and postoffices having as many as 50 employees. The law further provided that from time to time, upon the direction of the President, this classification should be extended until all positions in the civil service of the United States, except those filled by persons appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate and persons employed merely as laborers or workmen, should be made subject to the civil-service rules. Under this power extensions have been made with increasing momentum by every President since the enactment of the law.
GROWTH OF THE SERVICE,
Under President Arthur there was a growth of 1,619 classified places, which, added to the number originally classified, made the total over 15,000 at the close of his Administration. President Cleveland added more than 7,000 by Executive order during his first Administration, and the increase by natural growth during the same time was about 4,500 places. On the 5th of January, 1893, President Harrison amended Postal Rule I so as to include in the classified postal service all freedelivery post-offices. By this extension there were added to the classified service 557 post-offices, with a total of 7,660 employees. This was the largest single addition hitherto made to the classified service, and required the establishment of 557 local boards of examiners scattered all over the United States. The force of the Commission was fully occupied during the year 1893 and the spring of 1894 in providing for this additional work.
The total additions made by President Harrison by Executive order were over 8,000, and there was a natural growth of nearly 7,000 places during his Administration.
Thus there were at the beginning of the present Administration (March 4, 1893) approximately 43,000 places included within the classified service. The following are some of the more important extensions made by Executive order under the present Administration: On May 11, 1894, assistant teachers in the Indian service, and, on May 28, meat inspectors in the Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture, were included. On November 2, 1894, messengers and watchmen in the Departments at Washington were included, and the classification was extended to custom-houses having as many as 20 employees. At the same time the entire customs classification was extended so as to bring within it all employees except mere laborers, without regard to compensation, and a large number in the postal service was added to the competitive class. On November 17 steamboat clerks and transfer clerks in the railway mail service were brought under the rules, and on December 12 the classification was extended to include the internalrevenue service.
On January 3, 1895, the superintendents of post-office stations at which carriers are employed were put in the competitive class. On March 4 the classification was extended to the census division of the Interior Department, and on May 24 to all places in the Department of Agriculture not previously classified, including all chiefs and assistant chiefs of division, scientific experts, disbursing officers and other expert positions. On June 13 the classification was extended to every employee in the Government Printing Office, and on July 15 to the clerical force in the various pension agencies.
On March 20, 1896, the classification was extended to the employees of Indian agencies and school employees not previously included. By Executive orders of May 6, 1896, the classification was extended to practically the entire executive civil service throughout the United States. This order may be said to include every position to which the act of 1883 is applicable, with the exception of fourth-class postmasters and minor positions specifically excluded. These orders also placed in the competitive class all chiefs of division, chief clerks, and disbursing officers. The extension of May 6 was determined upon months previously, and was only delayed in order that the Commission could carry out the directions of the President to simplify and unify the rules, which, having been added to by amendments from time to time, had grown to bulky proportions and contained provisions not altogether harmonious.
The Commission has compiled a statistical exhibit of the number of positions in the executive civil service of the United States, classified and unclassified, with the compensation of each, arranged by Executive Departments, offices, and commissions. By direction of Congress this exhibit has been printed.
The total approximate number of positions in the civil branch of the Government is 178,717, of which 87,107 are in the classified service and 91,610 are in the unclassified service. Of those in the classified service 84,239 are arranged in classes by compensation and subject to examination or registration, 26 are appointed by the President alone, 781 are excepted from exainination or registration, and 2,061 are Indians in the Indian service. Of those in the unclassified service 5,570 are excluded from classification for reasons deemed best for the service, 4,815 are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, 8,854 are persons employed merely as laborers or workmen, and 72,371 are considered as classifiable, but not yet classified. Of those not yet classified 66,725 are postmasters of the fourth class. Of those remaining in the classifiable but unclassified group many will be transferred to the classified service by the action of the rules, as, for instance, in the customs service when the number of employees in a custom-house becomes as many as five, and in the post-office service when a postoffice becomes a free delivery office.
The aggregate compensation paid in the executive civil service of the United States during the year ended June 30, 1896, was, approximately, $100,000,000.
A CENSUS OF THE EXECUTIVE CIVIL SERVICE.
In addition to this tabulation of the executive civil service, a card system is being made which will show certain information regarding every person in the service. There will be a card for each person, show. ing name, legal residence, Department and office in which employed, the position occupied, salary, the date upon which the place was classified or made competitive, and the date of original entrance to the service. Subsequent changes in status will be noted on the card as they occur from time to time. Upon the completion of this system it will be possible to give much desirable information respecting the public service which hitherto could only be obtained after much delay and difficulty, and by going from office to office and from Departmeut to Department. There will then be one place where a complete list of appointments and removals may be seen, and the condition of the civil service may be made public and the extent and cost of the service ascertained.
A further illustration of the value to the Commission of the information proposed in this system is that it will divide employees into grades, so as to provide for a systematic method of promotion. The absence of a systematic or coherent organization of the service, its enormous extent, and the variety of employees and salaries, make the work of classification very difficult. For some parts of the public service an aggregate sum is appropriated, which is distributed by the appointing officer at discretion. The number of titles and the rates of pay are thus indefinitely varied, and a lack of uniformity exists among the several Departments and in offices in the same Department. The first step toward a classification based upon duties, with like pay for like work, will be attained when this information is secured.
REVISION OF THE RULES.
The extensions of the service already referred to could have been made earlier but for the fact that the rules as amended from time to time to meet particular requirements had become bulky, and in some details inefficient and inharmonious. As a preliminary step to the contemplated extensions, the President directed the Commission to make a revision and codification of the rules. It soon developed that this was a task of much difficulty, requiring careful study and frequent consultations with the heads of the Departments, both in order to avoid weakening in any particular the system already in operation, and also to embody advances which should without question improve the service. Before the revision there were separate sets of rules for the departmental service, the postal service, the customs service, the railway mail service, the Indian service, the internal-revenue service, the Government printing service, and also what were termed “General Rules."
As the result of the Commission's labors, there is now one set of rules covering the classified service of the United States. These rules are concise, simple, few in number, logically arranged, and harmonious, They also make definite advances: (1) In providing a system of promotions upon ascertained and recorded efficiency and ability; (2) in permitting transfers from any part of the service to any other part upon certified fitness, having regard always for the general provisions of the apportionment as contained in the civil-service act; and (3) in requiring like penalties for like offenses against office regulations without regard to political affiliations, thus affording a correction to an abuse of considerable magnitude.
Every officer, employee, and citizen with slight attention can comprehend the system, and know with reasonable exactness what can and what can not be done in appointments to the classified civil service. The direction of the President was that these rules should not only protect and benefit the public service, but that they should be so framed as to meet the approval of all reasonable and patriotic executive officers in future Administrations. It is believed that this has been accomplished.
EXAMINATIONS AND APPOINTMENTS.
The whole number examined for the five branches of the classified service during the year ended June 30, 1896, was 31,270, of whom 20,493 passed and 10,876 failed to pass. Compared with the previous year, this shows an increase of 379 in the whole number examined, an increase in the whole number who passed of 691, and a decrease in the whole number who failed to pass of 312.
The whole number appointed in the year covered by this report is as follows: Departmental service, excluding the railway mail and Indian services, 442; railway mail service, 655; Indian service, 88; Government printing service, 177; custom-house service, 459; post office service,
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3,148; internal-revenue service, 115; total, 5,084, being an increase of 292 over the previous year.
PRACTICAL CHARACTER OF EXAMINATIONS,
The Commission has made special efforts during the year to keep its examinations as practical as possible, because it recognizes the fact that much of the success of its work depends upon their practical character. On account of the variety of positions brought within the classified service by the Executive order of May 6, 1896, many new examinations have had to be prepared, and much original work has been done in the preparation of special and technical examinations to fill vacancies.
The Commission has found it necessary, in order to meet new condi. tions, to prepare examinations or tests entirely different from those heretofore given. For some of the newly classified positions, especially those included in the mechanical trades, new elements have been introduced in the examinations, such as experience, character as workman, age, and physical condition. The examinations prepared for these positions enable the applicants who have the requisite experience and ability, but who have but little educational qualifications, to pass the examination and become eligible for appointment. Those appointed from the examinations for the various trade positions are given a practical examination upon reporting for duty in the work which they are required to perform, which they must pass before they receive absolute appointment. For some of the positions, such as surfman in the life-saving service, the examination to determine the relative merits of applicants is confined to the elements of physical condition, experience, and age. It is proposed to have no educational test, or to have an educational test with a very light weight, in examinations for positions requiring practically 10 educational qualifications.
The examinations of the Commission now range from the simplest forms-in which no educational test whatever is given beyond the ability to fill out an application blank and furnish satisfactory evidence as to experience, character as workman, age, and physical condition-to professional, technical, and scientific tests for the various Departments of the Government. In the preparation of examinations the Commission has been careful to avoid the introduction of any tests which are not of value in bringing out the qualifications of applicants for the positions which they seek, the simplest tests being applied to those who apply for positions where the duties require little or no educational qualifications, and the more difficult examinations being given to those seeking positions requiring the highest qualifications.
The best evidence of the practical value of the Commission's examinations is shown in the success of those appointed to the service. Appointments are made for a probationary period of six months, at the end of which period, if the probationer's services are satisfactory, he is