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The Departments of National Administration1
Some indication of the complexity and extent of the administrative activities of the federal government is afforded by the following table giving the several departments and their chief officers and subdivisions.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE. -The Secretary and three assistant secretaries; chief clerk; counsellor; seven bureaus: diplomatic, consular, indexes and archives, accounts, rolls and library, appointments, citizenship, trade relations; and four divisions: far-eastern affairs, neareastern affairs, Latin-American affairs, and information.
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. - The Secretary and three assistant secretaries; chief clerk; supervising architect; comptroller of the treasury; auditors for the Treasury, War, Interior, Navy, State (and other departments) and Post-Office Departments; treasurer of the United States, register of the treasury; comptroller of the currency; director of the mint; commissioner of internal revenue; public health and marine hospital service; revenue cutter service; bureau of printing and engraving; life-saving service.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR. — Secretary of War and assistant secretary; chief clerk; general staff; adjutant-general in charge of records; inspector-general; quartermaster-general (transportation); commissary-general of subsistence; surgeon-general; paymaster-general; chief of engineers; chief of ordnance; judge-advocate-general; chief signal officer; chief of the bureau of insular affairs; board of engineers for rivers and harbors; division of militia affairs.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. — Attorney-General; assistants; solicitor-general; solicitors for the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Labor, and Interior, and solicitor of internal revenue; assistant attorney-general for the Interior Department; chief clerk; division of accounts; attorney in charge of pardons; appointment
1 The principal functions of the several departments and commissions are discussed in their appropriate places in the chapters which follow; but it seems advisable to give this catalogue for the purpose of giving definiteness to the framework of the national administrative system. Consult the Index. The salary of the secretaries is $12,000 each, except the Secretary of State, who receives only $8,000 a year -a peculiar situation due to the fact that Mr. Knox was a member of the Senate at the time of the increase and could not constitutionally take an office, the emoluments of which had been increased during his term in Congress. Hence Congress found it necessary to place the salary of the Secretary of State at the old amount in order to allow him to take the office.
and disbursing clerks; superintendent of prisons; chief examiner of records; examiner of land titles.
POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT. Postmaster-General and four assistant postmasters-general; chief clerk; assistant attorney-general; purchasing agent; chief inspector.
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY.-Secretary and assistant secretary; chief clerk; eight bureaus: navigation, yards and docks, equipment, ordnance, construction and repair, steam engineering, medicine and surgery, supplies and accounts; judge-advocate-general; commandant of the marine corps; solicitor.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. - Secretary of the Interior and two assistant secretaries; chief clerk; commissioner of patents; pensions; land office; Indian affairs; education; geological survey; and reclamation service.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. Secretary of Agriculture and assistant secretary; chief clerk; solicitor, appointment clerk; animal industry, weather, chemistry, statistics, accounts and disbursements, entomology, soils, biological survey, plant industry; office of experiment stations; forest service; office of public roads; division of publications; librarian of the department.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND LABOR. Secretary of Commerce and Labor; chief clerk and disbursing clerk; divisions of appointments, printing, and supplies; bureaus of corporations, manufactures, labor, census, statistics, fisheries, navigation, immigration and naturalization, and standards; coast and geodetic survey; lighthouse board; steamboat inspection service.
In addition to these nine departments there are two independent commissions: the Interstate Commerce Commission, composed of seven members, and the Civil Service Commission, composed of three members. There is also an International Bureau of American Republics, under the supervision of a director, charged with fostering trade relations throughout the two Americas. Finally the Government Printing Office may be mentioned.
The Civil Service
The vast army of civil employees in the executive service of the United States centred at Washington and scattered throughout the whole American empire is organized into a complicated hierarchy headed by the nine departmental officers who constitute the President's Cabinet. The head of each department, as noted above, usually has a number of assistants. There are, for ex
1 For the complex duties of these four assistants, see below, chap. xix.
ample, four assistant postmasters-general and three assistant secretaries of state. The administrative work of each department is distributed among a number of bureaus and divisions, each with a chief officer, generally speaking, responsible to some higher authority. In each of the divisions or bureaus there are a number of clerks, technical experts, and employees serving in a variety of capacities. The total number of persons employed in the Interior Department, for instance, according to the Secretary's report for 1908, was 18,770, of whom 4,396 were in Washington. The officers and employees in the whole executive civil service on June 30, 1908, numbered approximately 352,000. Considering this vast army with regard to methods of appointment, we find that it falls into two groups: 206,637 admitted on examination, or under the merit system, and 145,000 appointed without examination.
As we have seen above,2 even the offices now filled by examination were formerly subject to the spoils system - that is, they were given principally to party workers without special consideration for their fitness and without any test of abilities. After some tentative experiments at reforming this spoils system,3 Congress at length passed, in 1883, the Civil Service Act, which is still the fundamental law governing the federal service. This Act provides for a Civil Service Commission composed of three persons, no more than two of whom shall be adherents of the same party, appointed by the President and Senate, and charged with the duty of aiding the President, as he may request, in preparing suitable rules for competitive examinations designed to
'The relation of bureau chiefs to heads of departments is no more scientifically worked out than the relation of heads of departments to the President. See above, p. 188.
* Page 139.
Among these tentative measures were (1) the law of March 22, 1853, providing for the classification of certain clerks in Washington and requiring heads of offices to examine clerks before appointment - a law which proved to be little more than a farce; (2) the law of 1864, providing examination for thirteen consular clerks in the Department of State, and (3) the law of March 3, 1871, authorizing the President to prescribe regulations for admission into the civil service and to provide methods for ascertaining the fitness of candidates a law which promised well under the administration of the great champion of civil service reform, George William Curtis, but fell to the ground in 1873, when Congress refused to make the necessary appropriations for its execution. * Readings, p. 208.
test the fitness of applicants for offices in the public service, already classified or to be classified by executive order under the Act, or by further legislation of Congress. The Commission aids the President generally in the execution of the Act.
The Act itself ordered the Secretary of the Treasury and the Postmaster-General to make classifications of certain employees within their respective jurisdictions, and at the same time provided that the heads of certain departments and offices should, at the direction of the President, revise any existing classification or arrangement of their employees and include in one or more of such classes subordinate officers not hitherto classified. In other words, the Act itself brought a few offices under the "merit system," and left the extension of the principle largely to the discretion of the President and future acts of Congress.
When the law went into force it applied to only about 14,000 places which were then included in the classified service. The number has been steadily increased, principally by executive orders, until to-day far more than half of all of the offices in the executive civil service are filled by the process of examination and promotion under the civil service rules. During his administration, President Roosevelt issued a large number of orders extending the merit system. For example, in 1901-02, he extended the application of the rules to the rural free delivery service; in 1902, at the suggestion of the President, the employees in the census office were classified by act of Congress; in 1904 the positions in the forestry service were made competitive; and in 1905 the special agents of the immigration bureau on duty in foreign countries were included within the classified service.1 This list of Mr. Roosevelt's extensions is by no means complete -it merely illustrates the way in which the President may steadily widen the range of the "merit system" by applying it to one group of government employees after another. When Mr. Roosevelt entered upon his administration there were about 100,000 officials in the classified service, and before the close of his second administration the number had increased to nearly 200,000.2
The Civil Service Commission, under the direction of the Presi1 Reinsch, Readings, p. 698.
There was, it must be remembered, a large increase in the number of government employees during this period.
dent, prepares the large variety of examinations required to test the fitness of candidates for the multitude of different offices. There is a chief examiner at Washington, and there are several hundred local boards of examiners scattered among the states and territories for the purpose of supervising local civil service examinations.1 The Act orders that boards of examiners shall be erected at such points as to make it reasonably convenient and inexpensive for applicants to attend examinations.
The Act requires that such examinations shall be practical in their character, and, so far as may be, relate to those matters which will fairly test the relative capacity and fitness of persons examined to discharge the duties of that branch of the government service to which they seek to be admitted. In preparing the examination papers it is the practice of the Commission to ask the coöperation of the various departments; if a technical position is to be filled, the department concerned usually notifies the Commission, and very probably prepares the technical questions to test the fitness of candidates for the place."
The preparation of the examination papers for a large number of positions is relatively a simple matter, for about sixty-six per cent of federal offices covered by the merit system are clerical in character. Only about eleven per cent are reckoned as professional, technical, scientific, mechanical, and executive. About as many of the clerical positions are in the postal service as in all the other branches of the federal administration combined. These various positions are classified into groups arranged according to the minimum and maximum salaries paid in each; and for examining purposes they are separated into six divisions: clerical, technical, executive, mechanical, sub-clerical, and miscellaneous.
Any citizen of the United States may apply for an examination admitting him to the federal service. For a long time, owing to
1 These local boards are composed of federal officers detailed for this occasional work.
'During the year ending June 30, 1907, no less than 136,108 persons were examined; 99,261 passed; and 44,288 were appointed to the government service. 3 Full information may be secured by directing a request to the Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C. Citizens are excluded on the following grounds: mental or physical incapacity, excessive use of intoxicants, service in the army or navy, dismissal from public service for delinquency during the preceding year, and criminal or disgraceful conduct.