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Chief Examiner's Annual Report.
ALBANY, N. Y., December 31, 1897. The New York Civil Service Commission, Albany, N. Y.:
Gentlemen. I have the honor to submit the following report of the civil service examinations held during the past year:
COMPETITIVE EXAMINATIONS. The number of candidates appearing at competitive examinations during the past year is 3,218, a slight decrease from the number examined last year, but more than double the number examined in any of the preceding years. The decrease in the number examined is probably to be accounted for by the interim of about three months between the passage of the new Civil Service Law, providing for separate examinations for merit and fitness, and the first general examinations held under the new rules established pursuant to that law. From May 15th until July 1st there were no rules in force governing procedure under the new law, and it was not until August 5th that plans could be matured for holding the general examinations under the new rules. During the intervening period only such examinations were advertised and held as were imperatively needed, and the number examined was, therefore, comparatively smaller. The large examinations held in November, 1896, in all parts of the State, had provided large eligible lists for the most important positions, and this fact also had its effect in diminishing the number of examinations required during the early part of this year.
The number of separate competitive examinations held and reports made during the year is 131, of which 49 were held prior to May 15th under the old law and rules, and 82 were merit examinations under the new law and rules. The character of the merit examinations held under the new law and rules has been substantially the same as that of the competitive examinations held under the old law, as I have considered it to be the sense of the Commission and the import of the law that the fitness examination is meant to provide some new and additional tests to cover defects in the old system of examinations, rather than to change or modify the character of the examinations previously held. I have described in detail below some of the new examinations held during the year and also the more important changes in the schemes of examination. The provisions of section 3 of Rule XI for the formation of several eligible lists from the results of a single examination, have been applied in some cases. In particular, the clerkship examination has been made a basis for those of bookkeeper, deputy factory inspector, special exciseagent, charities inspector, law clerk and statistician–the additional requirements in each case being suited to the special duties of the position, and special knowledge required for their performance. The character of the applicants is substantially the same as in previous years, and I have added to the tables heretofore published a table showing for each examination the statistics of the candidates as to birthplace, education and previous occupation.
FITNESS EXAMINATIONS. The provision of the regulations for the duplication of the marks in the merit examination in cases where the appointing officer deems that such examination covered all the essential qualifications of the position, has proved a wise one and has been applied in case of the following eligible lists:
Statistician, Bureau of Labor Statistics;
Assistant clerk, Sing Sing Prison (appointed by the Comp-
The only fitness examinations so far conducted by the Commission have been those for guards in the three State prisons. In these cases the merit examination had been modified by omitting the oral examination previously required, and I, therefore, deemed it proper to hold a fitness examination, covering the ground previously covered by this test. Such examinations were held at each of the prisons and the candidates examined orally as to their experience, general health, physical qualifications, habits and intelligence. Those candidates whose standing on the merit list was derived from the May and June examinations, in which the oral examination was included, were informed that they need not appear again for the fitness examination in case they consented to have the same mark for fitness as was given them in their oral examination. It is noticeable that a very large proportion of such candidates trusted to the mark previously given, and did not appear a second time, and it may also be remarked that substantially every other candidate on the merit list appeared at one or the other of the prisons for fitness examination, which is in somewhat striking contrast to some reports of fitness examina. tions held by appointing officers. The total number of candidates entitled to notice for the various fitness examinations conducted by appointing officers up to date has been 1946. Of these only 749 have appeared, or 38} per cent. of those entitled to notice.
PROMOTION EXAMINATIONS. The provisions of the rules in regard to promotions have been frequently applied by appointing officers, but in only one case has the Commission been called on to hold a promotion examination; that is, an examination in which the applicants were limited to those occupying positions in the next lower grade in the same office as the position to be filled. In several cases the persons already in the service have been promoted upon obtaining a place on the eligible list for a higher position, in advance of persons out. side the service who may have obtained a higher rating in the examination. There are many lines of service in which the duties of the lower grade specially tend to fit the incumbent for promotion
to a higher grade, and in cases where the number of employes in the lower grade is considerable, competitive examinations for promotion 'will often be valuable. They furnish a basis on which appointing officers may freely select employes to be promoted without the charge of favoritism and without being compelled to appoint outsiders who have not the benefit of experience in the particular line of work required. The case in which a promotion examination was held was for law clerk in the Supreme Court, Kings county. Candidates were limited to the attendants in the same court. Eight of these attendants applied, of whom three were found qualified and five not qualified for promotion. The resulting eligible list was certified to the justices having the power of appointment and two of the three successful candidates were promoted. The examination set was exactly the same as would have been given for original appointment as law clerk.
EXAMINING BOARDS. Pursuant to the direction of the Legislature that the examinations be held in all the cities of the State, I have caused examinations to be held in a large number of different cities and have established a number of new local examining boards for this purpose. We are prepared to hold competitive examinations on short notice in any of the following villages and cities: Albany, Amsterdam, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Geneva, Hornellsville, Ithaca, Jamestown, Malone, Middletown, New York Olean, Oneonta, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse, Troy, Utica and Watertown. I am now planning general examinations to be held in several other cities and villages; among them, Auburn, Dunkirk, Fort Edward, Little Falls, Lockport, Newburgh, Ogdensburg, Oswego, Rome and Schenectady. These examinations will be held during the last of January, 1898. We will thus have covered within a year all the cities of the State except those which are located so near other larger cities as to be practically included with them. Of this class are Cohoes, Corning, Brooklyn, Yonkers, Watervliet and some others. In most cases they have trolley car connection with the larger city in which examinations are regularly held.