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After these examinations are completed, and the rating is made according to the merit and fitness of the different applicants there still remains a period of probation under the Rules, during which the head of the department has an opportunity to test, by actual service, the qualifications and efficiency of the successful candidates, and not until these have been assured by an actual probation is the final appointment made.
When, on the 15th day of May, 1897, the new Act relating to Civil Service examinations took effect, a question of much difficulty was presented to this Commission, as to the change effected in the Civil Service system by the adoption of that Act. Until then it had been generally supposed that the words “merit” and “ fitness " in the Civil Service clause of the Constitution of the State of New York (X) were nearly synonymous. The Act referred to required separate examinations, one for merit, to be held under the direction of the several Civil Service Commissions, and the other for fitness, to be determined by the appointing power, " or by some person or Board designated by the person holding such power of appointment or promotion.”
The Corporation Counsel advised that it was competent for the appointing power to designate the Civil Service Commission, as the Board which should conduct the examination for fitness. Almost all of the departments of the City of New York have availed themselves of the authority thus conferred, and have designated the New York Civil Service Commission as the Board to conduct the fitness examination.
With the approval of the State Civil Service Commission, as required by the Act, rules were made for carrying out the provisions of the Act referred to. These are numbered from 74 to 80, in the Schedule of Regulations appended hereto. In general they provide that the eligible lists which were in force at the time this Act took effect, shall stand as the eligible list for fitness, and that the rating upon them should be divided in each case by two; that in all examinations for fitness conducted by the appointing power, the questions and answers should be either in writing, or taken
down stenographically, and reduced to writing; that the rating of the appointing power upon such examination should be certified to the New York Civil Service Commission, and eligible lists there upon made up pursuant to the Act; that no question should call for the expression or disclosure of any political or religious opinion or belief; that any candidate claiming to be aggrieved by the conduct of the examination for fitness should have the right to appeal to this Commission, and that the other regulations which had been previously adopted, should still remain in force.
Practically, therefore, the conduct of examinations in the City of New York has not been greatly changed by the Act in question.
The following departments have in all instances designated the New York Civil Service Commission as the Board to conduct the examination for fitness:
Law Department, Board of Education, Department of Correction, Department of Charities, City Record, Department of Docks, Department of Taxes and Assessments, Fire Department (except in promotions), Health Department, Street Cleaning Department, Police Department, Commissioner of Accounts, Building Depart
The following departments have designated this Commission, in most instances, as the Examining Board for fitness:
Department of Public Works, Department of Street Improvements.
The following departments have made no such designation, but have themselves conducted the examination for fitness.
Finance Department, Department of Public Parks, Board of City Magistrates.
Some of these examinations have been a direct violation of the provisions of section 4 of the Act of 1897, before referred to, and we have felt it our duty to call the attention of the appointing power to this violation. In order to show the flimsy and unsuitable character of some of these examinations, we append a schedule showing the questions put, and the answers, and the rating upon the answers in several instances.
As showing what an examination which would, in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Act, "fairly test the relative capacity and fitness of the person examined,” we append the examination questions on the examinations for merit, conducted in the Civil Service office for the same positions, giving the answers of applicants in several cases.
Our experience has shown that the danger of abuse under the provisions of this act is so great, and the facilities it affords for enabling persons desiring so to do to evade the requirements of the Constitution which have been before referred to, that we feel it is a subject for congratulation to all interested in the good government of the City, that its provisions have been repealed, so far as the Greater New York is concerned. Section 1611 of the new Charter provides as follows:
“For the purpose of determining the effect of this Act upon other Acts, and the effect of other Acts upon this Act, this Act shall, except as in this section is otherwise provided, be deemed to have been enacted on the first day of January, in
the year eighteen hundred and ninety-eight.” It would seem to be clear, therefore, that so far as the Greater New York is concerned, Chapter 428 of the Laws of 1897, before referred to, is expressly repealed by the Greater New York Charter. Indeed, the provisions of those sections of the Charter which relate to the Municipal Civil Service (123 to 125), are so inconsistent with the provisions of the Act of 1897, that it would be impliedly repealed thereby, even if there were no express repeal contained in Section 1611.
The principal changes in the Regulations which we have during the year recommended to the Mayor, and which have been approved by the New York State Civil Service Commission, besides those before mentioned, are:
1. Authorizing this Commission to prescribe rules for the execution of the Regulations, and of the Civil Service Act, and prescribe forms for use in connection therewith.
2. Providing for noncompetitive examinations in some positions in Schedule A, which before had been altogether exempt from examination.
3. Requiring the Chief Examiner to attend the meetings of the Commission.
4. Making a violation of the Civil Service Regulations good cause for dismissal.
5. On the recommendation of the Chief Examiner we have changed to some extent the examination for admission to the position of Fireman or Park Policeman. It has previously been the practice to give to such applicants a copy of selected rules and regulations covering some important branches of their future duties, and to examine them upon these rules and regulations. The Examiners found it very difficult to frame questions upon such rules and regulations which would serve any purpose except to test the memory of the applicants, and it was thought, on the whole, expedient to substitute for this test " writing a letter and a report on subjects given at the time of examination.”
Our reason for this was that it is an important part of the duty of a Policeman to make a report in regard to violations of law, and we thought that the ability to write a letter on a given subject would fairly test the intelligence of the applicants, and their readiness to observe and express clearly the results of such observation. This has been done with the entire approval of the Fire Department, and after consultation with them.
We have retained, however, the provision in the examination for promotion relating to the Rules and Regulations of the department in the uniformed force of the Fire Department and of the Park Police. It seemed to us that one element that should enter into consideration in those departments was the practical acquaintance that had been acquired with the Rules and Regulations of the department, and the ability to answer questions intelligently in reference to the application of those Rules and Regulations to particular cases.
6. We have also raised the minimum on obligatory subjects for all applicants for appointment as Park Policemen and Firemen from sixty to seventy per cent. The regulations formerly provided that no person “ shall be examined for promotion or transferred from any position in Schedule G (Labor Schedule).” This provision was adopted to prevent the abuse that had sprung up, of appointing persons to positions as laborers, and assigning them to duty as Clerks, without any previous examination on that subject whatever. (This abuse is now prevented under the provisions of Regulation 71.)
It is, however, represented to us that there were many cases when it was very desirable to encourage the faithful service of skilled mechanics or laborers, by promotion to a higher grade. We saw the reasonableness of that, and recommended an amendment allowing such promotion upon examination, when the person seeking the promotion had “served the City with credit to himself for a period of three years in the department in which he is employed, and then only when the promotion or transfer is in the direct line of duty, and the person named shall pass an examination as provided for on original appointment or promotion.”
7. The subject of removals had been under consideration by the Commission for years. Two evils to be guarded against were:
(a) Removal from the service for political reasons, or motives of personal dislike.
(b) Making the removal of incompetent persons difficult by bringing under the jurisdiction of the courts the proceedings for the remoral.
The regulation on this subject adopted by the President of the United States, in the early part of the year, was carefully considered, and the result was a recommendation to the Mayor, which was approved by him and by the State Civil Service Commission, which assimilated the provisions of the Civil Service Regulations as to removals of those which had long been in force under section 48 of the New York City Consolidation Act, relating to the removal