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ALBANY, N. Y., March 15, 1898.
To the Governor:
The fifteenth annual report of the State Board of Civil Service
Commissioners is herewith respectfully submitted.
The Commission has remained unchanged the past year, namely:
Willard A. Cobb, George P. Lord and Silas W. Burt.
NEW CIVIL SERVICE LAW.
In accordance with the law adopted by the Legislature of 1897
(chapter 428), supplemental to the State Civil Service Law of 1883
(chapter 354), and in accordance with the provisions of the ninth section of the fifth article of the State Constitution, the Commis
June 4th revised its rules for the conduct of the State Civil
Service. Such rules were approved by your excellency July 1,
1897. Inasmuch, however, as it was deemed impossible to hold
new examinations in less than six weeks from the time the new
rules went into effect, the old eligible lists were voted operative
until September 15th. Since that time examinations under the new law have been held throughout the State and all the require
ments promptly met. As circumstances, therefore, have as yet allowed only a comparatively short period for ascertaining the practical workings of the civil service law as supplemented, obviously it is still experimental. But such results as have been already obtained fairly indicate not only maintenance of constitutional requirements but faithful civil service administration of State affairs. By the co-operation of heads of departments, themselves vitally interested, even increased practicability and efficiency have been attained.
ADDITIONAL WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY.
Any reference to present duties of the State Civil Service Commission compared with even a few years ago must emphasize in
creased labor and responsibility. The addition of the State
prisons and the canals added materially to our work. There is to-day hardly a department of State or subject of vital public in
terest with which the Civil Service Commission of the State is not
in close touch. And yet so accurately is all now adjusted as the
result of time and experience that the system although multiplied
many fold, works with substantial unanimity and unvarying pre
cision. Something of the advance thus made may be realized
from the condition of affairs two years ago when the original law
had been in operation fully twelve years. We quote from the
Civil Service Commissioners report of 1895: “ The law was passed
during the legislative session of 1883. January 1, 1884, was fixed
as the time when it would go into effect under rules (adopted by
the first commission and approved by the governor. The rules
adopted were very elaborate, so elaborate and complex in fact that they have never been fully followed. They involve among other things so complex a system of classification and examination that
it has never been found practicable by any commission to carry
it out in its entirety. Moreover the law and rules made under it
provided for the subjection to them of every branch of the civil
service of the State.
The result of all this was that the
State law was not fully in force by the first commission, only 18 persons having been appointed during the first year from the eligi
ble lists resulting from competitive examinations. There were in
1885, 22 appointments from the eligible list, in 1886 there were
57, in 1887 there were 58, in 1888 there were 79, in 1889 there were
47, in 1890 there were 62, in 1891 there were 71, in 1892 there were 101 and in 1893 during the administration of the present Commission, there have been 129."
Reference to years succeeding 1893 show a steady increase in the particular named, until 1896 there were 3,829 persons examined in competitive examinations and 630 appointments from
the resulting eligible lists. These figures are given to emphasize
the above statement of the growth of the work of the present Com. mission and to make two suggestions for legislative action: (1) An increased appropriation for necessary expenses of the Commission, with its increased duties and (2) provision for more com
modious quarters in which to properly perform such additional
labor. The appropriation for 1897 was $16,800. This amount was expected to cover examinations and office expenses at leastan amount wholly inadequate to meet the increased expenses of the Commission incident to the situation we have already explained. The expense of examinations owing to their increased
number has increased perhaps beyond any other department, such
total expenditure doubtless being beyond any official or publio idea. The present Commission rooms located on the fourth floor of the Capitol are inaccessible and restricted as compared with
many other State departments obviously of less importance. As
it is, the Commission with its constantly increasing examination
papers and other evidences of increasing growth is cramped for
room and should be promptly provided with more accessible and
For full statistical in formation with regard to results of the Commission's work during the fiscal year, we beg to refer to the complete tabulated statement in the appendix to this report. Such statements indicate in clear and tabulated form the number of persons in the unclassified and classified service of the various departments of the State and institutions thereof; the number of persons examined under the old and the new law; tbe number who passed and the number who failed; the number of persons appointed from eligible lists, etc., the whole showing detailed and total results. These figures have been made with care and are believed to be accurate. They prove practically the wonderful growth of the civil service of the State as already stated, and by inference at least emphasize the timeliness of your Excellency's recommendation in your second message to the Legislature that “ A larger force and better accommodations should be given the Civil Service Board." The Commission feels that present financial appropriations are insufficient to properly meet its needs and believes that with such increased appropriations and enlarged accommodations the work will be even better systematized and expected results more promptly obtained.
THE YEAR'S ROUTINE WORK.
Of the routine work of the year, the following items are worthy of special notice:
The approval of civil service regulations and amendments for cities.
The establishment of age limitations for Supreme Court attendants and the ruling in regard to the application of age limits to veteran applicants.