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1916, he renewed these recommendations and asked that the legislation be extended to offices of the first class as well. The President expressed himself as thoroughly in accord with the recommendations of the Postmaster General and stated that they had his hearty approval. He also stated that when these positions are classified the Postmaster General would be able to fill many of them by promotion from the clerical grades, and also by the advancement of postmasters, who had demonstrated their ability, to offices of greater importance.
On March 31, 1917, the President issued the following order: Hereafter when a vacancy occurs in the position of postmaster of any office of the first, second, or third class as the result of death, resignation, removal, or, on the recommendation of the First Assistant Postmaster General, approved by the Postmaster General, to the effect that the efficiency or needs of the service requires that a change shall be made, the Postmaster General shall certify the fact to the Civil Service Commission, which shall forth with hold an open competitive examination to test the fitness of applicants to fill such vacancy, and when such examination has been held and the papers in connection therewith have been rated, the said commission shall certify the result thereof to the Postmaster General, who shall submit to the President the name of the highest qualified eligible for appointment to fill such vacancy, unless it is established that the character or residence of such applicant disqualifies him for appointment. No person who has passed his sixty-fifth birthday shall be given the examination herein provided for.
The number of offices affected by the order was 10,339, divided by classes as follows: First class...
568 Second class.
2, 207 Third class.
7,564 The total salaries of these offices are $17,833,000. The order does not create vacancies nor require that an examination be held upon the expiration of the four-year term of any postmaster. It does not give a competitive classified status to any postmaster nor classify any office of postmaster under the civil-service act. Under existing laws first, second, and third class postmasters are appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and no person who is thus appointed is required to be classified unless by the direction of the Senate. The order is outside the civil-service law, and does not give any right of transfer to the service classified under that law.
The duties of the commission in connection with these appointments will be to hold open competitive examinations when called upon to do so by the Postmaster General, and to transmit the list of eligibles obtained to the Postmaster General.
The Post Office Department in 1917 reported vacancies at 281 such offices paying less than $2,500 per annum and requested certifications of eligibles. Examinations for these offices were announced to be held November 14, 1917. To be eligible for this examination
an applicant must be a citizen of the United States, an actual resident and domiciliary within the delivery of the office for which the application is made, and have been such resident and domiciliary at the time the vacancy occurred, and also be between the ages of 21 and 65 years on the day of the examination. It consists of the following subjects, with the relative weights indicated:
Weights. 1. Arithmetic and accounts (this test will consist of problems of average diffi
culty, embracing a knowledge of the four fundamental rules—common and
30 2. Penmanship (the legibility, rapidity, neatness, general appearance, etc., of the competitor's handwriting in the subject of letter writing..
10 3. Letter writing (letter of not less than 150 words; competitors may select either of two subjects given)...
25 4. Business training and experience (statements as to training and experience are accepted subject to verification)..
The department has also reported vacancies at 30 offices paying $2,500 or over per annum, and has requested certifications of eligibles. The scope and character of the examination to be given for such offices are now under consideration.
METHOD OF APPOINTMENT.
It is the increasing practice of appointing officers to select the eligible standing highest on the register. This practice permits appointments to be made without the delays incident to the certification of three eligibles for each vacancy, and the selection of one from among the three. In the navy-yard service, for example, when there is a vacancy to be filled, the recorder of the labor board notifies the eligible next in turn to report for duty. A similar practice is being followed in some of the field branches of the War Department. When there is need of making an appointment the commanding officer calls upon the representative of the commission for an eligible possessing the desired qualifications, and the one who has passed highest in the appropriate tests is instructed to report for duty.
The resignation of a large number of employees who were members of the National Guard called for military duty on account of the conditions in Mexico deserved exceptional action in their behalf. The call of the President was issued on June 18, 1916, and on June 20, the commission made public announcement that when a department or office of the Government desired to fill a vacancy resulting from the absence of a competitive classified employee who as a member of the militia or National Guard was called for military duty on account of the existing conditions in Mexico, the commission would authorize the filling of such vacancy temporarily from the eligible registers pending the return and reinstatement of such classified employee, and added, that in the event the absence of such employee should continue for more than a year, the period of eligibility for reinstatement under the rule, the commission would recommend to the President that the period be extended.
On October 31, 1916, the civil-service rule relating to the term of eligibility for original appointment was amended by the President to provide that the term of eligibility might be suspended in the case of an eligible who, as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, was mustered into the military or naval service under the call of June 18, 1916, and that at the expiration of such service his eligibility might be restored for a period equivalent to that during which it was suspended.
Congress took action in behalf of postal employees in the Post Office appropriation act of July 28, 1916, which provides in part as follows:
Any postal employee who has entered the military service of the United States or who shall hereafter enter it shall, upon being honorably discharged therefrom, be permitted to resume the position in the Postal Department which he left to enter such military service.
The Post Office Department has been granting employees leave of absence for military service and to fill vacancies resulting therefrom the commission certifies from eligible registers. Appointments from certificates issued for such vacancies are probationary in character, and the appointees may in the discretion of the Post Office Department be assigned to other parts of the Postal Service, or transferred to other branches of the classified service for which they are eligible.
RECRUITING THE ARSENALS AND NAVY YARDS.
A greatly increased force of manual laborers and workers was required by the Government at the arsenals and navy yards in connection with the huge undertakings which the war made necessary. At the same time there was a very large demand for such workers on the part of outside concerns. In normal times a sufficient supply of eligibles could ordinarily be obtained by public announcement of the need of the Government. Owing, however, to the lack of sufficient applicants, it became necessary for the commisssion to institute a campaign and actively canvass the country for applicants. This was done through the commission's local boards of examiners, of which there are about 3,000 throughout the country. Cooperation was also
obtained, with gratifying results, from the Department of Labor and the American Federation of Labor, and the commission wishes to bear testimony to the very efficient aid received from both, as also from large manufacturing plants in the surrendering of workmen. About 35,000 mechanics of all kinds were obtained, who expressed a willingness to accept employment when called upon. The qualifications of these applicants were tested by the local examiners, and those who passed highest were given transportation to the yards and arsenals needing their services. In this way it is believed that the needs of the Government for employees were met even more effectively and with a lower rate of labor turn-over than was generally the case with large outside plants. The merit system was adhered to, and as far as possible effort was made to avoid crippling industries by taking men already employed in essential trades.
Civil Service Rule VII, section 2, based on section 2 of the civilservice act, provides that certification for appointment in the departments or independent offices at Washington shall be so made as to maintain, as nearly as the conditions of good administration will warrant, the apportionment of such appointments among the several States and Territories and the District of Columbia on the basis of population. After war was declared military preparation rendered necessary a large increase in the force of employees of the civil establishments involved. It was vital that appointments be made as promptly as possible. A strict enforcement of the apportionment rule would have prevented the certification of many qualified eligibles from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, as each had already received a larger share of appointments than it was entitled to upon the basis of its population. In order to expedite the filling of vacancies and obviate the delays occasioned by the appointment of eligibles living at a distance from Washington, the requirement of the apportionment was waived for the War and Navy Departments, the Food Administration, and the War Trade Board. It was also waived for the Treasury Department, conditional, however, upon the department stating the need for the waiver in each case. Upon the waiver of the apportionment eligibles are certified for £ppointment in the order of their ratings in the examination.
Very much of the commission's work goes for naught by reason of the large number of declinations of appointment because the salaries offered are insufficient. The resulting delays seriously retard the work of the departments and add to the difficulties of the commission
in promptly supplying qualified persons for appointment. It is increasingly difficult to secure eligibles with the education and training necessary for proficient service at the usual entrance salaries from $900 to $1,000. The departments all recognize this administrative embarrassment, and agree that $1,000 per annum should be the minimum entrance salary for stenographers and typewriters and clerical employees. This is a matter which Congress alone can remedy, as appropriation acts usually prescribe the salaries to be paid and the classification of salaries remains unchanged since 1853, notwithstanding the very great increase in the demands of the service, the cost of living, and the rate of pay in outside business.
Few positions requiring technical qualifications are appropriated for directly as such, so that the departments are forced to make appointments for technical work under the designation of clerk. In some departments the technical and scientific positions are appropriated for in lump sum, but transfers from statutory positions to lump-sum positions at a higher rate of pay are forbidden by statute. Generally speaking, there is little distinction in salary between employees with technical qualifications and those without. It is manifest that the Government can not rely upon securing persons with technical qualifications at the same salaries that are paid to mere clerks. These positions should be appropriated for with designations and salaries corresponding to the duties to be performed. It is also desirable to secure uniformity among the different branches of the service so that work of the same kind will be similarly compensated. This would lessen the pressure on the part of employees for transfers from departments where the prospects of advancement are not considered good to other departments paying larger salaries for the same kind of work.
STANDARDIZATION OF SALARIES.
The increase in the number of employees, due to the war, has been accompanied by an increase in disparity in salaries paid for the same kind of work. Where employees in one department receive larger salaries than employees in another department for the same class of work, discontent results and pressure is exerted to secure transfer. A standardization of salaries should be the first extensive step in any effective movement to improve the personnel of the service. The chaotic condition of compensation makes it difficult to secure an equitable system of promotion. Congress recently directed the Bureau of Efficiency to make an investigation of conditions in State, municipal, and private employments, with a view to a standardization and classification of salaries, and when this has been done it is hoped that legislation will be enacted to provide for an arrangement of salaries on harmonious lines.