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in a State which, under the apportionment, has an excessive share of appointments and is not next in order of certification.
During the year there were 5 persons claiming military preference appointed to the service, while 318 honorably discharged soldiers and sailors and 5 widows of such were reinstated in the service.
RULE AS TO REMOVALS. On July 27, 1897, Rale II was amended by adding a new section, as follows:
No removal shall be made from any position subject to competitive examination except for just cause and upon written charges filed with the head of the department or other appointing officer, and of which the accused shall have full notice and an opportunity to make defense.
This is one of the most important orders made since the enactment of the law, and has met the entire approval of public opinion. This rule does not require that there shall be a trial of the charges preferred, subject to review by a court, but that the accusation shall be just and that the accused shall have a full opportunity of explanation. The reasons for removal are to be a matter of record, thus requiring the officer exercising the power of removal to weigh the reasons with conscientious care. While not impairing the prompt exercise of the power of discipline, this amendment guards the service against abuse, lessens the temptation to make improper removals, and affords a just degree of protection to the employee and a greater security of permanence in office during good behavior. If the reasons are sufficient, the officer will not hesitate to make the removal. It is believed that a proper enforcement of this order of the President will in a large degree remedy abuses which have not hitherto been corrected.
A like rule has been applied to letter carriers since June 28, 1894, with most salutary effects. Since that date the percentage of separations for all causes has been reduced from 6.3 per cent for 1894 to 4.9 per cent for 1895, 3.7 per cent for 1896, and 2.54 per cent for 1897. The removals from the service for 1897 equal but 1.06 per cent of the entire force of 12,931 men, while in 1896 they equaled 2.1 per cent, in 1895, 3 per cent, and in 1894, 4 per cent. The First Assistant Postmaster-General, in his report for 1897, referring to these figures, says:
This very small number of removals is evidence of a strict enforcement of the regulations which forbid the removal of a letter carrier except for cause after he has had due notice by a copy of the written charges and an opportunity to submit his defense to the same. It also marks an improvement during the last year in the discipline and conduct of letter carriers, which had already reached a very high standard of efficiency:
The operation of this rule does not embarrass the service by forcing upon it the retention of employees who are not qualified to perform their duties. On the contrary, it is in accord with the spirit of the merit system, which makes it as much the duty of the Department to remove froin the service those who fail to show adequate qualifications as to retain those who show such qualifications.
TENURE OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES.
The best interests of the service require that the tenure of Government employees shall be only during efficiency and good behavior. A fixed tenure for a certain number of years, as has been proposed, so that a large proportion of the employees would be periodically separated from the service, is open to the gravest objections. It would be injuri. ous to the service because, after several years' experience, the great majority of the employees are far more efficient and useful than when they entered the service, and it would be contrary to sound business principles to exchange them, after they have been trained in their duties, for untrained and inexperienced persons. It has been demonstrated that frequent changes lessen the efficiency of the service; and this being true, the plan proposed would result in a large loss to the Gov. ernment in the payment of salaries to additional persons who would be required on account of the loss of efficiency by reason of the frequent changes in the force of employees.
There are other objectionable features to the plan of a fixed tenure for a number of years for Government employees. If they had a fixed tenure, say for five or eight years, and the departments were permitted to dispense with their services at the end of that time or reappoint them, it would often result in the reappointment of those who were the least efficient, while in many cases it would result in political discrimination against those who might be opposed to the Administration in power. As was stated by the Commissioner of Pensions recently before the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Retrenchment, the least efficient employees are generally the ones who have the most influence. The reason for this lies in the fact that, knowing that they lack in ability, they look for political, personal, or social influence in order to retain their positions. If, therefore, there were a fixed tenure, with the power to reappoint, it would frequently happen that competent employees without influence would be removed and incompetent employees with influence would remain in the service.
With respect to the political side of the question of a fixed tenure, there can hardly be any doubt that if the departments were required to remove a certain proportion of the employees at regular intervals the removals would be almost entirely confined to those opposed politically to the Administration in power. This is shown clearly in the cases of the special examiners of the Pension Office, who are either reappointed or dropped from the rolls at the end of the fiscal year, in accordance with law. The records show that those who have been dropped at the end of the year are in nearly all cases politically opposed to the Administration. This was true of the changes in the force of special examiners during the last Administration, and it is equally true of the changes in the same force during this Administration. A fixed tenure for Government employees, therefore, would result in periodical changes along
political lines, and in many cases competent employees would be removed because of the pressure for the retention of incompetent ones. These evils, taken together with the introduction of a large number of inexperienced persons regularly, would bring about the demoralization in the service that existed before the civil-service law was enacted. The Commission is therefore satisfied that in order to secure the best service for the people and to protect the interests of the Government the only praeticable tenure for Government employees is during efficiency and good behavior, and that they should be separated from the service when they are found wanting in either respect.
With this view of the case, the Commission prepared some promotion regulations, and also a plan for keeping a record of efficiency, in accordance with the requirement of the civil-service act and the provisions of Rule XI of the civil-service rules. These regulations require that officials shall consider the kind of work upon which employees are engaged, how well they perform their work, and the amount of work performed, in determining their efficiency. When employees do not come up to the staudard of efficiency fixed by the regulations, from whatever cause, it is then incumbent on the proper officials to reduce them in grade or to dispense with their services entirely as may be deemed for the best interests of the service.
The Commission believes that the regulations which it has formulated and which have been put in operation in the Navy and Post-Office Departments can, with such modifications as experience may suggest, be applied successfully to the entire service. When they are so applied and enforced, the question of a life tenure not based upon efficiency can have no place in a discussion of the merit system.
From time to time the positions excepted from examination, which were usually the higher and more important positions in the classified service, gradually increased in number until 1894, when a considerable proport of them were included in the competitive list. On May 6, 1896, when the civil-service rules were revised, a very large proportion of those positions which remained in the excepted list were transferred to the competitive list. Two methods of extending the civil-service rules were under consideration before the extension of May 6, 1896. One method proposed was to make specific inclusions by designations of positions, and the other to make a general inclusion by services and classes of duties, with the understanding that such positions as were brought in by the general inclusion, which could not with advantage to the service be continued in the competitive list, might from time to time, as exigencies arose, be transferred to the list of places excepted from examination.
The intent of the advocates of the civil-service law with respect to its scope is explained in the following extract from the report of the
committee that submitted the bill which afterwards became the civilservice law:
But the subordinates in the Executive Departments, whose dnty is the same under every Administration, should be selected with sole reference to their character and their capacity for doing the public work. This latter class includes nearly all the vast number of appointed officials who carry into effect the orders of the Executive or heads of departments, whether in Washington or elsewhere.
It will be seen from the above extract from the committee's report that but comparatively few places were intended to be excepted from open competitive examinations. In its annual reports the Commission has repeatedly called attention to the excepted positions as a growing evil, and the tendency to increase their number by legislation or other. wise beyond the actual needs of the service. The Commission believes that no classified positions should be excepted from examination unless it is clearly demonstrated that the best interests of the service require that such positions should not be included or continued in the competitive list.
FURTHER EXTENSIONS. The Commission recommends that the operation of the civil-service law be extended to include all positions to which the civil-service rules can be applied with advantage to the service. The Commission believes that the best interests of the service require that the civil-service rules be extended to include the municipal service of the District of Columbia, the force in the Library of Congress and the clerical force of the next census.
The classification of the municipal service of the District of Columbia has been urgently recommended by the District Commissioners. As a large number of the positions in that service are similar in character to those in which experience has already demonstrated the value of the merit system, it is believed that their classification would be for the best interests of the public service. The classification of the force in the Library of Congress is recommended because the Commission has been quite successful in securing through its examinations very competent persons for similar positions in the departments. The Commission is also satisfied that it will be in the interest of economy and efficiency to include the clerical force of the next census in the classified service.
THE COMMISSION'S FORCE. The Commission takes pleasure in stating that as a rule its office force has rendered very faithful and efficient service during the past year, and it also desires to express its appreciation of the efficient service rendered by many of the clerks detailed to it from the several departments.
The Commission feels that it is due the members of the local boards throughout the country to refer to their faithful services during the
year. They have frequently been called upon to conduct special exami.
JOHN R. PROCTER,
Commissioners. The PRESIDENT.