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the lax methods prevailing, aliens were often admitted to government employment, but within recent years the requirement of citizenship has been quite rigidly enforced. Applicants for examination are not even charged a fee, in spite of the fact that the Civil Service Commission has several times recommended the establishment of a nominal charge for the purpose of excluding the many thousands of ill-prepared persons who take the examinations in a gambling spirit - nothing to lose and possibly something to gain.

Through these examinations the Civil Service Commission must keep its registers of eligibles full, so that it can supply men of the most diverse training and experience when called upon by the several departments. On the same day, there may be demands. for clerks, stenographers, expert chemists, patent examiners, draftsmen, interpreters, and postal clerks; and the Commission must be ready at once with a list of persons duly qualified for such positions.

When called upon, the Commission selects from the proper register and transmits to the department concerned the names of three candidates at the head of the list, who are (if possible) residents of the state wherein the appointment falls. From this list of three any one may be selected by the appointing officer, and the other names are returned to the Commission to be replaced upon the register. If the appointing officer refuses to accept any one of the three, he must give satisfactory reasons for his action. Every successful candidate is put on probation for a period of six months; then if his record is good his appointment is made permanent.

It should be noted, however, that there are certain exceptions. to the operation of the rules in the matter of making appointments. (1) Preference is given to persons honorably discharged from the military or naval service; and, unless by direction of the Senate, no person who has been nominated for confirmation by the Senate shall be required to be classified or to pass an examination. (2) Appointments to the public service in the depart

It will be noted that "inferior" officers, under the Constitution, may only be appointed by the President alone, the heads of departments, or the courts, as Congress may determine. As a matter of fact the vast majority of inferior officers are appointed by heads of departments under Civil Service rules.

ments at Washington shall be apportioned among the several states and territories and the District of Columbia upon the basis of population - a principle which it is impossible to carry out in practice. (3) In general, private secretaries to the heads of departments, assistants, bureau chiefs, and attorneys and persons called upon to fill emergency employments are exempt from examination.2

The process of removal from the federal service after appointment is a relatively simple matter. The rules require that no person shall be removed from a competitive position, "except for such causes as will promote the efficiency of the service." When the President or head of an executive department is convinced that any employee in the classified service is incapable or inefficient, he may remove such employee without notice. Whenever a subordinate officer recommends to the head of an executive department the removal or reduction in grade of some employee, the head of the department may, at his discretion, require that notice be given to the employee affected and a reasonable time afforded him for answering the same. The Civil Service Commission contends that the complaint frequently heard to the effect that unfit men are protected against removal by the rules is untrue. "On the contrary," says the Commission, "the power of removal for unfitness is with the head of the office. The appointing officer being responsible for the efficient performance of the work of his office, it rests with him to determine whether such cause exists as to require the removal of an employee in order to promote the efficiency or discipline of his office."

The courts do not interfere in cases of removal, on the ground that the right of appointing involves the right of removal and

A clause was attached to the census bill of 1909 designed to eliminate many frauds connected with residence claims.

2 The exemptions include a long list of officers filling five printed pages of the Civil Service Report: two private secretaries to the head of each executive department and one to each assistant head, one private secretary to each of the heads of bureaus filled by the President and Senate, all persons appointed by the President without confirmation of the Senate, attorneys and persons receiving not more than $300 in compensation, appraisers at the ports of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, all persons in the army transport service, and so forth.

3 With regard to his own subordinates, of course.


Twenty-fourth Annual Report (1908), p. 87.

that the Civil Service Act limits the power of removal in only one instance - refusal to contribute money or service to a political party. In practice, however, whenever a large number of employees of the same political faith are removed from office, it is presumed that the removal was for political reasons, and the officer making the removals is required to show that just cause existed for each removal; but the courts will not intervene.

Administrative officers are now required to keep "efficiency records" of the employees under their supervision and to render a periodical report giving the several employees' records in diligence, punctuality, faithfulness, and accuracy. These efficiency records are filed and used as the basis for promotion or expulsion from the service. The difficulties of making up a fair and just record are apparent; and it is also evident that no mechanical system of rating can reveal the real capacities of the persons rated. Some objection has been made to this system of efficiency testing on the ground that it depends largely upon the personal opinion of the supervising officer and that it encourages servility and pretence on the part of subordinates. On the other hand, it is urged that, rough and unjust as these efficiency markings frequently are, they serve as a valuable deterrent to negligent and indolent employees who, if left to their own devices, would do as badly as they could.

Furthermore, the law makes provision for promotions in the federal service, and some system of efficiency ratings seems indispensable. Of course, competitive examinations are established to test the fitness of candidates for promotion as well as candidates for admission, and a list of eligibles for advancement is kept; but candidates for promotion may use, in support of their claims, recommendations from the chiefs under whom they have served.

In making promotions, removals, and reductions in rank it is very difficult to exclude partisan politics from consideration, but attempts have been made by act of Congress and presidential orders to protect employees in the classified service from undue political influence, and also to withdraw them from too great activity in partisan politics. The original Civil Service Act provides that no person in the public service is for that reason under any obligations to contribute to any political fund or to render any political service, and that he shall not be removed or

otherwise prejudiced for refusing to do so. Furthermore, no person in the public service has a right to use his authority to coerce the political action of any person. No recommendation by a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives, except as to the character or residence of an applicant, can be lawfully received or considered by any person concerned in making examinations or appointments under the Civil Service Act. Members of Congress and executive, judicial, military, and naval officers are forbidden to be involved in soliciting or receiving political assistance or contributions from any officer employed by the United States or from any person receiving compensation from the United States. The practice of soliciting campaign contributions in the buildings occupied by branches of the federal government is likewise forbidden by law.

Other forms of political activities, however, were left by the Act to the control of the heads of departments, and from time to time executive and departmental orders were issued for the purpose of eliminating abuses arising from the active participation of inferior office-holders in party affairs. At length, in 1907, political activity in the broadest sense was placed under the supervision of the Civil Service Commission by an amendment to the rules, adopted by the President, providing that "all persons who by the provisions of these rules are in the competitive classified service, while retaining the right to vote as they please and to express privately their opinions on all political subjects, shall take no active part in political management or in political campaigns." This rule has been construed by the Commission to forbid the use of official positions for the benefit of any political party; and since its adoption it has been interpreted to prohibit the following types of political activity: "Service on political committees, service as delegates to county, state, or district conventions of a political party, although it was understood that they were not 'to take or use any political activity in going to these conventions or otherwise violate the civil service rules'; continued political activity and leadership; the publication of a newspaper in the interest of a political party; membership in a club taking an active part in political campaigns and management; the circulation of petitions having a political object; service as a com

'There is, no doubt, more or less violation in practice.

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American Government and Politics


missioner of elections in a community where it was notorious
that a commissioner of elections must be an active politician.”
The principle of permanent tenure involved in the merit
system of appointment raises the question as to what shall be
done with government employees who have passed the age of
efficient service, It is only possible to keep the civil service up
to a high standard by constantly recruiting it from able young
men in the prime of life. This throws upon the officer responsible
for administration the unwelcome duty of reducing the pay and the
rank of the older men or discharging them altogether. If these
older men are kept in service, it is frankly out of a generous ap-
preciation of their condition. They are not only inefficient them-
selves, but by holding high places which they have won by meri-
torious services they block the way for the promotion of capable
and energetic younger men. "No man," said the quartermaster-
general recently, "with the slightest appreciation of the loyalty
of these old, tried, and faithful employees will urge that they
should be discharged, and a reduction in salary is so dishearten-
ing to them as to render nugatory their services after such action.
No matter how kindly the necessity is explained to them, reduc-
tion is a severe blow. . . . If they are retained in the grades at-
tained by merit in the period when they could and did do all or
more than their duty, the effect on the younger clerks who then
do the work is depressing in the extreme. Some provision for
retiring the old clerks ought to be made. More good effects on
administration would probably come through provision for retire-
ment than any other one action that could now be taken, and its
effect would doubtless prove as beneficial as did the establishment
of the merit system." 2



Report of the Civil Service Commission (1908), p. 10. 2 Annual Report (1905), p. 65.

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President Taft took this view of the situation in his message of December 7, 1909, in which he declared that, in spite of the opposition to the establishment of civil pensions, which had naturally grown out of the heavy burden of military pensions, he was strongly convinced that no other practical solution of the difficulties presented by superannuation in the civil service could be found, than that of a system of civil pensions.


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