Imágenes de páginas

the basis of merit. While the revision of the rules was under consideration, the Commission, having in view the requirements of the act, recommended to the President that a rule governing promotions be incorporated in the revised rules. Rule XI was accordingly included, which provides that competitive tests or examinations shall be applied as far as practicable and useful, and that regulations to govern promotions be formulated by the Commission after consultation with the heads of the several Departments, bureaus, and offices.

As a further check upon discriminations against employees, the revised rules provide that in making reductions or removals, or in imposing punishment for delinquency or misconduct, penalties like in character must be imposed for like offenses, without regard to the political opinions or affiliations of the offenders.

Under the authority given in the rules, the Commission, on June 22, 1896, adopted special regulations governing promotions from subordi. nate grades to the grade of clerk or copyist. The Commission has also had consultations with the heads of Departments and bureaus with a view of formulating suitable regulations to govern promotions of all employees. The Commission desires to make provisions in such regulations for keeping a record of efficiency that will include the essential elements in a fair and accurate determination of the relative merits of employees as a basis for promotion.

The Commission is gratified to state that, notwithstanding its limited force and the increased demands upon it in other lines of work, considerable progress has been made since the adoption of the rules; and promotion regulations have recently been formulated by the Commission and applied to several of the Departments. Practically all the criticism that is now made against the merit system is on account of unjust promotions, reductions, and removals which, it is alleged, are made in the service. The Commission, however, has heretofore had no control in these matters, but the new rules give it sufficient authority to regulate promotions as well as to investigate cases where discrimi. nation is charged in the matter of making removals or reductions. It is hoped that within a short time it will have satisfactory promotion regulations in operation in all the Departments, so that promotions may be made wholly upon merit, and removals and reductions be made only for satisfactory causes, without regard to personal, political, or religious considerations.


From statistics recently compiled by the Commission relative to the growth of the classified and unclassified branches of the service in Washington, D. C., it is shown that since 1883, when the civil-service law was enacted, there has been an increase of 37 per cent in the num. ber and 43 per cent in the salaries of the unclassified places, while there

has been a slight decrease in the number of the positions originally classified by the civil-service act as well as a decrease in the appropriations for those positions. It appears that the positions subject to competitive examination have increased not because of extra appropriations, but on account of the extensions of the classified service to cover unclassified positions. Practically all of the increase in the unclassified positions occurred before they were included in the classified service.

It is shown by the statistics that if the classified positions in Washington had increased in the same proportion as the unclassified positions while unclassified, an extra yearly expenditure covering many times the cost of the maintenance of the Commission would be needed to pay the salaries of the Government employees. The temptation to increase the number of employees or to retain employees when there was no work for them to do, which was such a characteristic feature of the “spoils” system, has entirely disappeared under the new system. The pressure for office having been removed, decreases of force have been made from time to time in the classified service of the Departments during the last fourteen years as the work was completed, because there was no object in keeping unemployed persons on the pay rolls.

The reports recently issued from the various Departments, bureaus, and offices bear additional testimony to the increased efficiency of the classified executive service.

The last report of the Superintendent of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing shows that, notwithstarding the work of that Bureau has increased over 77 per cent, the force has only increased 11 per cent. An investigation made by a commission of Treasury experts into the work of this Bureau prior to the enactment of the civil-service law found the force largely in excess of the requirements of the service, and recommended sweeping reductions. In this report the following language was used:

The total decrease is equal to about 56 per cent of the force as it existed on April 1, and results in a saving to the Treasury of about $390,000 per annum.

It is now apparent, however, that notwithstanding these large reductions the force is still considerably in excess of the requirements of the Bureau.



The whole system seems to have revolved in a vicious circle. Appropriations have been secured by making appointments for Congressmen, without regard to the fitness of the appointees or the necessities of the work; and when secured they have been expended in such manner as to retain the good will of those already friendly or to secure that of others. Moreover, the Bureau has been made to subserve to a great extent the purpose of an almshouse or asylum.

[blocks in formation]

We can not condemn too strongly the system of patronage, which is chiefly responsible for the extravagance and irregularities that have heretofore marked the management of tlie Bureau, and which, it is safe to say, has cost the people millions of

dollars in this branch of the service alone." (Report of special committee of investigation appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury June 10, 1877.)

The Commissioner of Internal Revenue uses the following language in his last annual report:

I desire to call special attention to the marked improvement of the service in the field since the classification under the civil-service law of the various employees in that branch of the service. This is especially noticeable in those districts in which there has heretofore been a disposition on the part of subordinate employees to enter into collusion with persons engaged in the illicit manufacture and sale of distilled spirits.

Under the old order of things the subordinate employee looked forward to nothing better than his employment at a small compensation during the period of his assignment to duty at a distillery. As a result, he frequently became careless in the discharge of his duties, and in some cases sought to increase his income by actual collusion with the distiller to whose premises he was assigned, such collusion having for its object the defrauding of the Government of its revenues.

Under present conditions the employee has learned that a serious infraction of his duty renders him liable to peremptory dismissal from the service, and that without any hope of reemployment. He has also learned that a strict compliance on his part with the law and regulations will place him in the line of promotion and enable him to be advanced to the higher grades of the service.

In the districts referred to the improved condition of the service is evidenced by the greatly decreased number of complaints filed with this office, and, also, by the largely increased receipts from penalties imposed for violations of the law and regulations.

Further conclusions similar to the above will be found in the following official documents of dato previous to the passage of the civil-service act, showing the condition of the executive civil service at that time. The information contained in these and other official reports was the basis of Senator Pendleton's statement made on introducing the civil-service bill of 1883, that the departmental service was found to be inefficient, extravagant, and in many instances corrupt:

House Report No. 47, Fortieth Congress, second session, condemning the man

agement of the civil service, and reporting a bill to remedy the evils, viz, the removal of employees at each change of administration and the political use

made of them. (May 25, 1868.) Senate Report No. 227, Forty-second Congress, second session. Report on the

New York custom-house investigation. (June 4, 1872.) Report on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Graves report) made by com

mittee of investigation appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury. (Juno

10, 1877.) House Ex. Doc. No. 8, Forty-fifth Congress, first session. Transmitting the

report of commissioners appointed to examine custom-houses. (October 19,

1877.) House Ex. Doc. No. 1, part 7, Forty-sixth Congress, second session. Civil serv

ico in Great Britain and its bearing on American politics. (Dorman B. Eaton,

November 10, 1879.) Senato Report No.872, Forty-sixth Congress, third session. Report on the civil

service. (February 10, 1881.) Senate Ex. Doc. No. 61 and House Ex. Doc. No. 94, Forty-sixth Congress, third

session. Results in the New York post-office and custom-house of the appli

cation of civil-service rules. (February 28 and March 1, 1881.) Senate Report No.576, Forty-seventh Congress, first session. Report on the civil

service of the United States. (May 15, 1882.)

The Superintendent of Indian Schools states that it is a matter for congratulation that the civil-service rules have been extended over the entire school service, and points out the good results of this extension. In this he is borne out by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who says in his report:

The recognition of the merit system in the Indian service is a long step forward, and will undoubtedly elevate its standard, improve its morale, and promote its efficiency. The removal of all partisan influence from appointments will give added dignity to the positions and increase the zeal of those engaged in the work.

The Commissioner of Pensions, speaking of the Executive order of July, 1895, placing the pension agencies under civil-service rules, says:

The wisdom of the change has been demonstrated in the increased efficiency of the clerical force and decided improvement in the entire agency service.

And with reference to the working force of the Bureaul proper, thatThere has not only been an increase in the quantity of work performed, but a decided improvement in its quality as well.

The Secretary of Agriculture states that, notwithstanding the in. creased amount of work, there has been a reduction of the force of 280 employees, and that there has been covered back into the Treas. ury since March 7, 1893, $2,066,661.19 out of a total amount of $11,179,455,45. He adds:

That these great oconomies have been effected without in any way marring the efficiency of the Department work or unduly limiting its scope is due in a very large degree to the application of the civil-service rules, both in letter and spirit. The vide extension of the civil-service classification under the law has been proved by experience to be not only a great help, but absolutely indispensable to the maintenance of an economical and efficient administration of the public service. Since March 7, 1893, the classified service has been extended, until now it includes every important position in the United States Department of Agriculture. Reports from the chiefs of bureaus and divisions since this classification are unanimous in praising the enhanced value of the service rendered by their assistants and employees. In efficiency and economy the classification has very visibly improved the work.



The effect of placing the force of the Bureau of Animal Industry within the classified service has been very marked in increasing its efficiency and improving its discipline. This is particularly apparent with the employees stationed at other cities than Washington. The decreased expense of the inspection work is largely due to this improvement in the force. Every person feels now that his standing, retention in the service, and chance of promotion depend upon the interest which ho shows and tho care and fidelity with which his duties are efficiently performed.

On March 4, 1893, there were 781 persons employed by this Bureau, but on November 1, 1896, there are only 758, notwithstanding the fact that the work has more than trebled.

The Secretary of Agriculture, in addition to his published report, has made the following additional public statement:

By the aid of a completely classified service, to which there is no ingress savo through competitive examinations by the United States Civil Service Commission, the Department of Agriculture—the smallest and youngest of the Executive Departments-has demonstrated the truth that the civil-service law, regulations, and rules,

vigorously carried out, are the best forces for economy yet tested in this form of Government. In four years' trial of the merit system more than two millions of dollars have been saved to cover back into the Treasury out of appropriations made during that period for that Department. And as employees become more skillful, more expert, and adept from experience in the service, the labor cost of administration will continue to decline. My successor will find a fairly well equipped and decently disciplined force at his command, and the members of that force, from the highest to the lowest, will, as a rule, prove their allegiance to their duties by constant and efficient industry.

The General Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service, in his last annual report, says:

In several preceding annual reports I have expressed appreciation of the substantial benefits of the civil-service methods of selecting new appointees for the railway mail service by competitive examination.

In this report it is shown that while the number of pieces of mail matter distributed per clerk has increased from 1,222,762 in 1885 to 1,779,759 in 1896, the ratio of errors to the number of pieces distributed correctly has decreased from one error to each 5,575 pieces distributed correctly in 1885 to one error for each 9,813 pieces distributed correctly in 1896. He adds:

I have purposely selected the year 1885, because it shows the highest per cent distributed correctly to each error previous to the placing of the railway mail service under the jurisdiction of the civil-service laws and regulations.

The table published on page 5 of the report of the General Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service is a conclusive argument of the evils of the old system. As shown in the report, the highest efficiency ever attained under that system, after years of practice, was one error in every 5,575 correct deliveries. There was a change in the Administration, and the errors increased to one error in every 3,364 correct deliveries, but before the close of that Administration the service had gradually improved until 3,954 correct distributions were made to each error. Then came another change of Administration, followed by the usual removals, and the efficiency immediately fell to one error in every 2,834 pieces correctly distributed. Since the classification of the service, however, the elimination of political removals (and appointments based purely upon ascertained fitness) has been followed by continuously increasing yearly efficiency, until now the maximum efficiency has been reached, as shown by the record above quoted of nearly 10,000 correct distributions for each error.

Like evidence could be given from the reports of the various officers of the Government and from the statements of the heads of bureaus and divisions who have been longest in the service and who have best knowledge of the workings of the Executive Departments.


It was the intention of the founders of our Government that administrative officers should hold office during good behavior. The

« AnteriorContinuar »