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the return of contributions, with interest, in case of death or resignation before pensionable age. Followed to its logical conclusion this means that the simplest and most independent solution of the problem for both employee and the government is a compulsory savings arrangement, the employee to set aside from his salary a sum sufficient with the help of a liberal rate of interest from the government, to purchase an adequate annuity for him on retirement, this accumulation to be inalienably his and claimable if he leaves the service before reaching the retirement age or by his heirs in case of his death."
Uniform Grading of State Employees. Another subject which the Civil Service Commission, co-oper ating with the heads of the State departments, could properly take up with a view to unifying the service and economizing in public expenditures would be that of establishing a system of uniform grading of employees, which would provide for promotion through rigidly defined grades and would eventually secure equality of pay for the same service in all departments.
This subject was intelligently discussed in the 1908 report of the former Chief Examiner of the Commission, Mr. Charles S. Fowler, who also outlined the legislation needed to make the service of the State thoroughly businesslike in its organization in this respect.
The adoption of such a system, the Civil Service Commission believes, would make for good discipline, would remove occasion for controversies over the regularity of promotions, and would relieve the Commission from the necessity of holding repeated examinations for promotion where there is no real change in grade of duties. It would also lessen the pressure on the Legislature to consider personal appeals for salary increases, and it would, as Mr. Fowler suggested, "prevent the appointment of a new employee at the high salary which had been granted after a long period in consideration of the faithful and superior service of an old one and so prevent the gradual increase in the cost of the service from this cause.”
As an aid in the consideration of such a uniform system of grading, and to show also the line of authority in the organization
of each of the State departments, the Commission has requested the drafting and filing in its office of diagrams illustrating the respective department organizations on lines similar to that which it has prepared for its own convenience and which is presented as a part of this report.
Efficiency Records. The State Commission is pleased to report that one department, that of the Public Service Commission for the First District, has put in force during the past year a carefully worked out system for keeping continuous and comparative records of the efficiency, punctuality, attention and general good conduct of employees. With this rule faithfully and uniformly observed so as to afford a reliable basis for rating the qualifications of candidates for promotion, on the basis of their previous service, as provided by the Civil Service Law, the Commission could wisely forego reliance upon written examinations in cases where the promotion proposed contemplates only an increase of salary beyond a grade without change of duties, and only insist on such examinations when there is involved advancement to different and more important work and assumption of larger responsibilities.
National Assembly of Civil Service Commissions. Upon invitation of the New York State Commission, the Third Biennial Meeting of the National Assembly of Civil Service Commissions was held at the Capitol in Albany on June 2d, and in conjunction therewith was held the Third Biennial Conference of the New York State and Municipal Civil Service Commissions. The meeting was opened with an address of welcome delivered by Governor Charles E. Hughes, and its sessions continued through two days, the program covering discussions of practical problems in the administration of civil service laws by representatives of the National and several State Commissions, and from the standpoint of the appointing officer by Comptroller William A. Prendergast of New York city. There was a large attendance of delegates and others interested.
The Municipal Commissions. The State Commission has endeavored to bring up the work of the municipal commissions to the highest possible standard. Through official visits of inspection by members of the Commission, or by its secretary and its chief examiner, it has inquired into their methods of business, examined their records, advised changes in their system of examinations, and when occasion demanded ordered the completion of defective records and the summary refusal of certification to payrolls for illegal or irregular employments. It has required all commissions, except that of New York city, to present for filing reports of recurring examinations and copies of the question papers used, together with the notices posted for such examinations, thereby keeping itself informed of the work of the several commissions, the character of their examinations and the relative weights given subjects in written examinations, physical qualifications and experience.
Two notable exceptions to the general high standard of efficiency were found in the work of the commissions at Utica and Buffalo. Inspection of the work of the Utica commission disclosed the fact that upon the incoming of a new city administration, the reorganized municipal civil service commission proceeded to make a change in the office of its own chief examiner without the formality of dismissing the incumbent or holding an examination of candidates through which to establish a new eligible list and make appointment therefrom in legal method. It also appeared that the new commission had accepted without protest the action of heads of city departments in replacing old employees with new ones by similarly unjustifiable methods, it appearing that through a sort of “gentlemen's agreement” every change in the political control of the city government was accompanied by a change of all subordinates, whether in the exempt or competitive class. The members of the municipal commission were cited to appear before the State Commission to show cause why they should not be removed from office, and a majority of the State Commission voted that the evidence warranted such action, but Commissioner Kraft, feeling that the city commissioners had been led into the faults noted through precedent established by their predecessors and had not committed any willful or intended violation of law, and that now
that they had been aroused to the requirements and intent of the law they could be depended upon to faithfully enforce it, withheld his vote from the proposition and they were continued in office.
At Buffalo in the course of the inspection of the records of the municipal commission, it was disclosed that the roster from which the payrolls of employees in the department of public works were checked was in a chaotic condition, and in the extended inquiry which followed the State Commission took up also a proposed reorganization of the municipal commission and investigation of questions at issue between the municipal commission and the commissioner of public works, and also considered the complaint made by Mr. William B. Wright, a member of the common council, in regard to alleged violation of the Civil Service Law by the said commissioner of public works. As a result of the investigation it appeared that there were upward of two hundred employees of the department of public works who did not have a clear title to their positions. Some of these irregularities were explained through the failure of the city commission to change titles in the classification to conform with the payrolls. A number of others were those of persons appointed to positions in the noncompetitive class, who had never taken the required qualifying examinations. But in the case of a considerable number of employees in the competitive class no record could be found showing that they had been appointed from eligible lists established through competition or otherwise legally introduced into the service.
The State Commission, as a result of its investigation, while crediting the municipal commission with efficient work in its conduct of examinations and pointing out that many of the faults noted resulted from its defective organization, declared that its failure to maintain a proper roster of the employees in the department of public works, and the defective methods of keeping the records which had grown up since the preceding inspection by the State Commission, called for emphatic condemnation and for prompt and positive action on the part of the mayor or the municipal commission for the correction of abuses. The State Commission also called for the retirement of the secretary to the municipal commission, through whose neglect or inefficiency the abuses had arisen, and it directed attention to the fact that while
the primary duty of enforcing the Civil Service Law in Buffalo rested with the municipal commission, an appointing officer who like the commissioner of public works makes appointments in violation of the rules is only less blameworthy.
In addition to the employees who were illegally appointed by this official, the Commission said, “ there appeared to have been many men employed under titles inappropriate to their duties. The assignment of any person to perform duties other than those for which he has been examined and appointed, is in direct violation of the Civil Service Law, which provides that 'no person shall be appointed or employed under any title not appropriate to the duties to be performed.'”
The State Commission recommended reduction in the number of members of the municipal commission from seven to three, the payment of salaries to the commissioners, a complete reorganization of the office force, and the filling of the position of chief examiner through competition, revision of the rules and schedules, and prompt steps to purge the payrolls of the names of persons who could not show lawful title to the positions held.
Inspection of the records of the civil service commissions of the following named cities has been made during the year: Amsterdam, Auburn, Buffalo, Dunkirk, Elmira, Geneva, Gloversville, Ithaca, Jamestown, Johnstown, Lackawanna, Little Falls, Middletown, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Rensselaer, Rochester, Rome, Syracuse, Tonawanda and Utica.
As another step toward informing and assisting the municipal civil service commissions, which unfortunately are apt to be completely changed in personnel with each change in political control of the cities, and therefore often enter office without experience or knowledge as to the duties of the position, the State Commission has directed its secretary and its chief examiner to compile a pamphlet containing an outline of municipal rules in approved form, directions as to the form of eligible books, rosters, etc., and model forms for applications and other blanks needed in the conduct of the work.
Roster of the State Service. Upon request of the Commission the Legislature of 1910 made an appropriation for the publication on January 1st and July 1st