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presence of an examiner from the office, and some local and special positions which can be held at any time in single cities. The resulting merit lists have proved sufficient for the requirements of appointing officers to date, and a large number of appointments have been made from them, and provision will be made for holding similar examinations in January to supplement those lists which are being depleted, and to provide such new ones as time has shown are necessary. In preparing for this examination, each appointing officer has been asked to suggest any examinations which he desires to have held for his department.
On September 9th, examinations were held for moulding instructor at the Elmira Reformatory and for Superintendent of the House of Refuge at Hudson. The former consisted wholly of practical questions, relating to the trade of moulding and the experience of the applicants. The latter covered experience, New York State geography and government, including questions relating to houses of refuge, letter writing, physiology and hygiene, sanitation and housekeeping.
Examinations were held on September 14th for instructor in bookbinding, and on October 30th for instructor in upholstering in the State Industrial School. In each case the questions were prepared by experts, and related to experience and technical knowledge.
The usual difficulty in securing sufficient eligibles for the medical positions in the State hospitals has been experienced, and numerous examinations have been found necessary for the positions of junior physician and medical interne. Such examinations were held in February, April, June, August and October, and further examinations have been advertised for January.
On October 23d an examination, the first of its kind, was held for building inspectors on contract work in the Department of the State Architect. The examination was prepared by the chief of the inspection force in the bureau of buildings in New York city, with the assistance of the head draughtsman in the office of the State Architect, and many of the candidates were architects of a high grade.
On December 11th was held an examination for the position of tax clerk in the office of the Attorney-General covering the experience of candidates, general legal knowledge and special legal knowledge of tax laws and land titles, including the regularity and validity of assessments, tax sales and conveyances. The number of candidates was small, but a large percentage were well qualified.
On December 28th an examination was held at Albany, Syracuse and Plattsburgh for the position of inspector of schools in the examination department of the University of the State of New York. Eleven candidates were present, many of whom had long experience in public school work. The subjects of examipation were experience, history of education and school economy.
Continued effort has been made in all cases of new examinations to adapt the subject matter of the examination to the duties of the position, and to test so far as possible the capacity of candidates for the work they were to undertake. Considerations of age, personal character and physical ability have, however, been left almost entirely to the fitness examination. It would be possible to take up these matters more thoroughly if special examiners could be employed to deal with, and the results of our examinations would no doubt be fortified by such a course. Unless such tests are very thoroughly and carefully conducted, however, they do not add much to the value of the examination reports and are particularly open to criticism.
CLASS III EXAMINATIONS. The non-competitive examinations for positions in Class III have been continued on the lines pursued heretofore. There is a great difference among the various local boards conducting these examinations, in the standard maintained. In some institutions the examinations are carefully conducted and considerable effort is made to adapt the examinations to the requirements of the various positions to be filled. In many cases, however, the work is performed by the local boards in a perfunctory manner and the examinations are comparatively worthless as a means of de
termining or comparing the qualifications of applicants. The scrutiny of candidates and the inquiry into their character and physical condition is no doubt more complete than the returns of the examiners to the Commission indicate, but on the whole the system as now administered is of very little value for the purposes for which civil service examinations were instituted. I believe that the schedule of positions in Class III should have a thorough revision and that the method of treating these positions should be completely reorganized. The Commission has power, under section 1 of Rule XX, to transfer positions from this class to Class II“ whenever it shall be determined that a competitive examination therefor is practicable.” This has already been done in the case of the position of storekeeper, and I think should be done also in the case of many other positions, such as the foremen and examiners in the manufacturing departments of the State prisons, all the employes of the Onondaga Salt Springs, and the firemen in all State institutions. Many of the attendants and officers having direct contact with the inmates of the various State institutions might also properly be subjected to competitive examination. In all the cases mentioned, the compensation is as high or higher than that given many persons now appointed from competitive examination, and the duties are such as to furnish a sufficient basis for a competitive examination. Although the money compensation in many cases is apparently small, it is to be remembered that most of these employes receive maintenance at the expense of the State, which is equivalent to an addition of about $200 per annum to the money compensation. The advantage to be gained by placing such positions in the competitive class would be that they would be thrown open to all applicants, and many competent persons would probably apply for them who now think they have no chance of appointment. The examinations for similar positions would be made uniform in the various institutions, and the friction between appointing officers and the Civil Service Commission, which now frequently arises over the appointment of persons to positions in Class III and their assignment to duties cov
ered by the examinations held for Class II, would be lessened. For another class of positions, mainly those of skilled workmen, a scheme somewhat similar to the labor registration system in force in many of the cities might properly be put in force. Candidates who satisfy the requirements of experience and skill should be placed upon the waiting list in the order of their application, and such list be treated as the merit list from which selections could be made by the head of the institution. In this way applications could be received at all times and there would be an opportunity for the investigation of the candidate's character and proficiency before placing his name on the list.
Several points of immediate interest to the Commission have been decided by the courts during the past year. In the case of Van Petten v. Cobb, the question was as to the power of the Civil Service Commission to strike from the eligible list the name of a veteran who had passed the examination but was afterwards shown by the appointing officer interested to be phrsically very feeble and properly unfit to perform the duties of the position for which he was examined. It was decided that a nanie could not be so stricken from the list, at any rate not without notice to the candidate and an opportunity offered him to apLear before the Commission. The court further said that the proper remedy for any mistake in placing a name on the eligible list is the probationary appointment. Following this came the decision in the case of Sweet v. Lyman, in which the relator Sweet, a war veteran, had been removed from the position of special agent in the department of excise during the probationary term of appointment without a hearing. Chapter 821 of the Laws of 1896, provides that no veteran “holding a position" in the service of the State or any political division thereof can be removed from such position except for cause and after a hearing upon notice of the charges. It was held by the Supreme Court that a veteran during the term of his probationary appointment was not “holding a position” within the meaning of this statute, and that he
coull during that period be removed without notice or a hearing. The court in this case seems to have followed out the theory laid down in the Van Patten case, that the probationary term is the proper remedy for mistakes in placing names upon the eligible list.
In the case of Chittenden v. Wurster, the effect of the provisions of the constitution of 1894 upon the existing Civil Service legislation was considered in all its phases. The decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the lower courts really turned upon the form of action brought, deciding that a taxpayer's action could not be maintained under the circumstances in the case. The court, however, discussed at length the meaning of the constitutional provision that appointments are to be made by competitive examination “so far as practicable.” The language used in regard to the so called confidential positions is very broad, and the court intimates, although it does not actually decide, that all classes of positions which bring the incumbent into more or less confidential relations with his chief were not intended to be subject to competi. tive examination; in fact it would be possible within the language of this decision to assign to almost any subordinate some duties which would render his position a confidential one. It may be said, however, that all this discussion of the court is outside the case, as it was not upon these principles that the case was decided, and in an actual case before it, the court might not be willing to go as far in authorizing exemptions as its language in this case seems to indicate.
The question of demarcation between the Civil Service of the State and that of the cities and other political divisions has been before the courts in two cases. In the case of Sears v. Tobey, the question was whether the clerk to the police justice of the city of Syracuse, who is also clerk of the police court, was in the Civil Service of the State or of the city. The position had been classified by the city Civil Service Commission as belonging to the city service. The State classification covered this position only under the general heading of “The Courts,” but it had always been considered that all the courts were part of the State judiciary system