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selection of employees for public libraries. Examinations such as these are now conducted for employees in the largest libraries of the country, notably the Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, and Newark libraries.
The classification proposed, besides securing employees of better capacity, resulting in better service, more work with fewer employees, and economy in expenditure, would have many indirect benefits. Among these is the facility secured in the removal of the inefficient. Appointing officers have often preferred to appoint to excepted and unclassified places from the lists of the Commission because they could thus not only get better men, but because of the greater ease in the removal of incapables. The same extraneous influences which put an unfit man in office usually keep him there. Under the merit system, on the contrary, the power of removal is unchecked, except by considerations of justice and the best interests of the service. LETTERS URGING THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. (Amberst College, Amherst, Mass., rooms of the president.]
JUNE 8, 1897. MY DEAR Sir: Believing that every extension of the civil-service regulations has been a gain to the canse of good government, I want to ask your especial attention to the question of classifying under civil-service rules the employees of the Congressional Library at Washington. The nature of the duties performed by these employees of the Government is such as to commend to the intelligence of the country the extension of civil-service regulations over this additional group of those who are to be in the employ of the United States.
With congratulations upon the auspicious beginning of your administration, and with assurances of high personal esteem, I am, yours, very truly,
MERRILL E. GATES. Hon. WILLIAM MCKINLEY,
President of the United States.
Cambridge, Mass., June 1, 1897. Sir: I take the liberty, having for many years been a member of the administrative council of the library of this university, to bring to the attention of Your Excellency the great,importance, in the interest of the intelligent and economical administration of the Congressional Library at Washington, of bringing its employees within the limits of the “classified” service under civil-service rules. There is, perhaps, no class of public servants whose qualifications can be more securely tested by fit examinations than that of those employed in a great library. The staff of such a library must consist, if the library is truly to discharge its functions, of a highly responsible, intelligent, and educateil class of men and women.
In the general interests of learning in the United States, for the promotion of which the Congressional Library is one of the most important instruments in the charge of the General Government, I venture, sir, to urge the classification of the staff of the Library under civil-service rules. I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
CHARLES Eliot Norton. To the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
[F. W. Taussig, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.]
JUNE 3, 1897. To the PRESIDENT:
I take the liberty to express my earnest hope that it may seem expedient to the President to frame the civil-service rules in such manner that the employees of the Congressional Library shall be included within their scope. As a constant user of
books, a coastant attendant at a great library, and an observer for many years of library methods, I beg to testify that for the great mass of employees in a large library the methods of competitive examination are excellently adapted for the selection and retention of competent persons. The further gain which ensues from the existence of a method of appointment which avoids the dangers from political and personal solicitation speak for themselves. I beg, therefore, earnestly to express my hope that the President will see fit to take a step which will promote the usefulness, the good order, and the credit for the nation, of the great collection of books which will be so nobly housed in its new quarters. I remain, very respectfully, yours,
F. W. TaussiG. President McKINLEY.
HARTFORD, June 10, 1897. Dear Sir: It seems to us who are using books that it is important to the public service that the employees of the Congressional Library should be classified and under the civil service rules.
The qualifications of a librarian can be determined by examination, and his experience depends largely upon his permanency. Yours, sincerely,
Chas. DUDLEY WARNER. WILLIAM MCKINLEY,
(Civil Service Reform Association of the District of Columbia. )
WASHINGTON, D. C., May 25, 1897. GENTLEMEN: At the last meeting of the National Civil Service Reform League, held at Philadelphia, December 10 and 11, 1896, the following resolution, among others, was adopted :
"The League * respectfully requests that such executive or legislative action be taken as may be needed to extend the provisions of that law (the civilservice law) to the emploġees of the National Library.”
The local Civil Service Reform Association, in whose behalf I now address you, was instrumental in procuring the adoption of the above-quoted resolution, and, of course, indorses the request it contains.
I am directed to communicate this information to the Commission, with the request that, so far as the Commission controls the situation, it will do what it can to bring about an immediate classification of the employees of the National Library, so that • when the National Library force shall be increased, as it is understood it is soon to be, the employees shall be selected only in the method provided for entry into the classified civil service. If the power to make this classification does not repose in the Commission, I shall be obliged if you will inform me in whom such power is lodged, so that I may communicate to the proper authority the request of the local association and the action of the National Civil Service Reform League above referred to. Very truly, yours,
F, L, SIDDONS. UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION,
Washington, D. C.
NEED OF APPLYING THE MERIT SYSTEM TO THE FEDERAL
STATEMENTS OF HON. CARROLL D. WRIGHT AND PROF. WALTER F. WILLCOX CONCERNING THE TAKING OF THE FEDERAL CENSUS UNDER THE SPOILS SYSTEM.
[Extracts from letter of Mr. Wright to Senator Lodge, printed in Congressional Record of December
15, 1897.] In response to your note inquiring whether I had made the statement that the work of taking the last census cost $2,000,000 more than it would have cost if the appointments in the Census Office had been made under the civil-service rules, and, if I had made such statement, on what data I had based it, I have to say that the statement was made by me in an official report on a plan for a permanent census service, made in accordance with “joint resolution relating to the Federal census” approved March 19, 1896. The report was submitted December 7, 1896, and is known as Senate Document No. 5, Fifty-fourth Congress, second session. The statement alluded to is on page 9 of this report, and is as follows:
“The absolute necessity of bringing the whole census force into the classified service, in accordance with the act of January 16, 1883, and the amendments thereto and rules thereunder, seems to me perfectly apparent. Had this been the role in the Eleventh Census there would have been, in my opinion, a saving of at least $2,000,000 and more than a year's time.”
I should have very much preferred that the statement made relative to the saving of at least $2,000,000 could have rested as a matter of opinion, but as you have called for the data on which I base this opinion I shall furnish them. In doing this I am obliged to make comparison between the work of the Department of Labor and that of the Eleventh Census Office, and thus place myself in an attitude which may subject me to some captious criticism. The comparison I make is one between systems, and not between administrations under the two systems; for in the case in hand, while at the head of the Department of Labor, I was for four years in charge of the Federal Census Office. Thus whatever comparison is made involves, in some degree, my own administration of the Census Office as well as that of the Department of Labor.
The work of this Department "and that of the Census Office is of the same general grade. The facts on which reports are based are gathered by enumerators or special agents in both cases, correspondence, as a rule, being used simply for purposes of explanation or verification, when needed.”
The quality of the work performed by the Census Office and by this Department need not be brought into comparison beyond this, that all the investigations conducted by the Department of Labor are quite as difficult as the most difficult investigations conducted by the Census Office; but the cost of securing results may be compared. The facts exist for a fairly just comparison of the cost of production under two systems, the Department of Labor operating under civil-service rules and the Census Office being exempt therefrom.
The cost of production can be ascertained by learning the time and money cost of specified units of production. The efficiency of labor in production can be determined by the same method. To ascertain the cost, and thus the efficiency, of production under the two systems like elements must be brought into comparison. A statement of the cost of production under the two systems will enable you to determine whether the opinion I expressed in the official report on a permanent census office is fairly well substantiated. To this end I submit the following table, which covers the productive period of the Census Office and embraces the total production of that office and of tho Department of Labor for the same period.
I have not included in the following tabular statement the bulletins nor the compendium published by the Census Office, nor the bimonthly bulletin and a large amount of material prepared by the Department of Labor for a report on the wages of the commercial countries of the world. The bulletins and the compendium of the Census Office are transcripts to a large extent, the material being drawn from the tabulations made for the final reports. The comparative table is as follows: Comparatire statement of the work and its cost in the Census Bureau and in the Department
of Labor from April 1, 1889, to June 30, 1897.
United States Eleventh Cen-
9, 744 17, 285
21, 428 79,546
208, 794 $1,369, 777.26 $10,016, 677.68
Nonpareil ems of matter per page
force and of printing, engraving, and binding
expenses of the field force and of printing, engraving, and binding..
Bringing this comparison to a concrete and quantitative statement, it is seen that had the cost of preparing the matter by the Eleventh Census Office been at the same rate per 1,000 nonpareil ems as was the cost of preparing like matter in the Department of Labor, the total cost under the first comparison-that is, exclusive of printing, engraving, and binding-would have been $3,595,432.68, instead of $10,016,677.68, a saving of $6,421,245, while under the second comparison, that excluding the cost of the field force in collecting the material as well as that of printing, engraving, and binding, it would have been $2,298,821.94, instead of $5,670,817.15, a saving of $3,372,025.21.
The above statements more than justify the opinion which I expressed in the report on a plan for a permanent census service, for instead of an extra cost of $2,000,000, to which I guardedly limited myself, it is apparent that under the first comparison there was an extra cost of $6,421,245, and under the second comparison of $3,372,025. The magnitude of the census work, the lack of time for preparation, the temporary nature of the force, etc., may properly, and perhaps sufficiently, account for the extraordinary expense above the $2,000,000, which I have attributed to the absenco of civil-service rules.
The figures which I have given thoroughly justify the opinion Mr. Porter expressed to me several years ago, that it would have been much better had the Eleventh Census been taken in accordance with civil-service rules, an opinion he has now given to the public in an interesting article in the North American Review for the current month, in which he gives as one of the faults of the system under which censuses have been taken “ the placing upon the shoulders of the Superintendent, whose mind should be fully occupied with his experts in planning the work, the responsibility of the appointment of an office force of several thousand clerks."
[Extracts from pamphlet, Area and Population of the United States at the Eleventh Census, by
Walter F. Willcox, Ph. D., published for the American Economic Association, August, 1897.] Further doubt and opposition were aroused in certain quarters by the failure to employ competitive examinations in selecting subordinate employees. Whether the responsibility rested upon Congress which passed the law or upon some one or more of the executive officers who carried it into effect is immaterial to my contention. The claim that the methods employed in the Tenth Census were being followed did not disarm the criticism; the civil-service law had been passed in the interim and public opinion had altered. Evidence was offered in the press that enumerators were appointed at the suggestion of party leaders. The supervisor of the New York City district was charged with the appointment of about eight hundred enumerators.
A prominent metropolitan paper printed a circular letter alleged to have been sent by him to local Republican politicians and reading as follows: “Dear Sir: Will you please forward to this office the list of applicants that the Republican organization of your district desires to have named as census enumerators!” Statements were published that some enumerators were unable to read or write; that others had their photographs in the rogues' gallery. The circulation of such assertions, whether false or true, could not but impair the popular confidence in the census.
I am allowed to quote the following from a personal letter written to me in 1896 by Dr. John Shaw Billings, who was in charge of the Division of Vital Statistics at the Eleventh Census:
“The whole of my work in the census has been done in the face of great obstacles, owing to repeated changes of clerks for political reasons, etc., and I am tired of struggling with the most unpropitious circumstances which have surrounded the work.”
It seems probable that the law under which the Eleventh Census was taken was better than any prior to 1879, but that its administration was somewhat inferior to that of the Tenth Census.
SAVING EFFECTED BY THE ADOPTION OF THE MERIT SYSTEM, AS SHOWN
BY THE GROWTH OF THE NUMBER OF POSITIONS BEFORE, AND THE REDUCTION AFTER, THE PASSAGE OF THE CIVIL-SERVICE ACT.
(From 1873 to 1883, preceding the enactment of the civil-service law, the number of clerks in the Departments increased from less than 3,300 to 5,523, an increase of more than 2,200, or 66 per cent; while from 1883 to 1896, under the merit system, the number of clerks decreased from 5,523 to 5,312, or over 3 per cent—and this in spite of the steady increase in the volume of public business consequent to the growth of the nation.)
1 These were "general service clerks,” transferred to the civil list in 1882.