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names were upon the eligible list. It was foreseen that this would cause a rast amount of useless labor in examining candidates who, although not so manifestly unfit as to justify the rejection of their applications in the first instance, were still unlikely to pass high enough to secure appointments; but it was thought that this disadvantage would be more than offset by the cessation of importunity, and the ascertainment of the exact qualifications of the whole number of appli eants. Through the courtesy of the members of the Press, public notice was accordingly given in the newspapers of the existence of a large number of vacancies of class one in the Department, which were about to be filled by competitive examinations, and that every person who should have on file on the first day of October an application made in accordance with the rules, and showing a reasonable degree of fitness for clerical service, would be summoned to appear for examination. On the first day of October, the number of persons whose names were ou the eligible list, including all who had not been summoned for previous examinations, was two hundred and sixty-nine, every one of whom was summoned to appear. The number was, of course, greater than could be examined at one time—the examination-rooms being only large enough for the accommodation of about sixty candidates. It was, however, desired to so arrange the examinations that they would be practically one, and that those reaching the highest averages should be certified for appointment. This result was accomplished by holding tive examinations, the questions for each of which were differelit, but covered as nearly as possible the same range; by assigning but five of the forty-five vacancies to each of the first four examinatious and the remaining twenty-five to the last; and by carrying forward from examination to examination the names of those who passed the minimum standard of sixty per centum but failed to receive appointments.
DUE PUBLIC NOTICE.
The third of the rules and regulations promulgated December 19, 1871, requires that due public notice shall be given of the existence of vacancies in the lowest grade of any group of offices before they shall be filled. The regulations governing admission to the Departments provide for the continuous receipt of applications for admission to the lowest grades of groups without reference to the existence of vacancies at the time the applications are made, and for the selection of a practicable number of candidates froin those whose applications are on file ten days or more prior to an examivation, and thus seem to do away
with the occasion for public notice of each examination. The Board has considered the latter requirement as modifying the former, and that the public announcement of the adoption of the rules, and that applications would be received continuously, satistied the requirements of the earlier rule. When the number of vacancies has been unusually large, as was the case last October, notice has been given through the news columns of the daily papers of the fact that examinations were about to be held.
The questions used in the examinations are printed on sheets of foolscap, with sufficient blank space after each question in which to write the answer. The number of sheets ordinarily employed is eleven.
The following direction is printed at the head of each sheet:
“Upon completing the answers to the questions, the candidate should note on the paper the exact time he has been engaged upon it, sign it, and place it upon the examiner's desk”— with the additional direction in the case of arithmetical computations to “ Give the operation at length in each case."
The noting of the time occupied on each sheet is useful in determining the relative readiness of candidates in different branches of the examination, and is sometimes an important guide in assigning them to duty in the Department.
During the preparation of the regulations governing admission to the Departments, it was proposed that the pseudonymous system, should be adopted, i. e., that each candidate should be required to select a pseudonym which he should sign to each of his papers, and that his real name should not be disclosed until after his standing had been ascertained. On consideration this proposition was rejected as useless and inadequate for the purpose for which it was intended. Its only purpose could be to assure candidates of impartial consideration by the Board, by concealing from the examiners the identity of those for or against whom they might be disposed to manifest prejudice. But it is evident that such a device would fail of its object if the Board were disposed to be unfair, since the authorship of any set of examination papers could be ascertained by comparing it with the candidate's application; or, if the Board should stoop to collusion with a favorite, his identity might be made known by means of his handwriting or by a private mark upon the papers. It was thought that the adoption of a device which could be so easily evaded would repel rather than secure confidence in the fairness of the examination, and it was decided that the candidates should be required to sign their real names to their papers, and that impartiality should be secured by fixed scales of relative weights and of marking, and by giving candidates an opportunity to inspect their papers and the marking thereon, after the results of the examinations should be made up.
One object which was kept in view, in fixing the number of questions and exercises to be given in an examination, was to make the work required for their performance equal to a fair day's work in an office, and thus to furnish a practical test of efficiency at the desk. It is believed that no person can perform the work required in the examination for admission sufficiently well to receive an appointment who does not possess the capacity to perform the routine duties required of almost any first-class clerk in the Department.
The character of the questions upon each sheet is as follows:
Upon the first sheet the candidate is required to write a short personal history of himself, embracing his full name, place and date of birth, education, subsequent experience in business or profession, or as a clerk, and, if a candidate for promotion, the division of the office in which he is employed, and the character of the duties upon which he has been engaged.
The next sheet contains about eight or ten exercises in arithmetical numeration and notation; the expression of numbers indicated by figures in words, and of numbers indicated by words in figures, ranging from extremely simple examples in whole numbers to those involving a knowledge of the numeration and notation of decimals. Simple as these exercises are, they form an excellent test, and are rarely performed with complete accuracy.
The third sheet contains two exercises in simple addition, consisting of two columns of figures, each extending to millions—one containing about twelve numbers, and the other about twenty-six.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth sheets contain six or seven miscellane. ous exercises in arithmetical computation. Much thought and care are bestowed upon these, as they are considered of the utmost importance in examinations in the Treasury, in which a great portion of the work is of an arithmetical nature. The Board has made it a rule to gire no abstract exercises on these sheets, but to use exclusively concrete questions. So far as it is possible to do so, without involving technical knowledge or transcending the range of examination fixed by the regulations, it is the aim to give practical exercises, illustrating actual computations arising in the business of the Department. The advantages of the use of these classes of questions are many. Calling, as they do, for the exercise of the kind of knowledge actually required
CIVIL SERVICE REFORM IN THE TREASURY.
in the Department, they test the candidate's immediate fitness for clerical duty, and not merely his capacity to become a competent clerk. They possess a great superiority over merely abstract questions, inasmuch as they test the candidate's power to analyze the questions, and ascertain what rule or rules to apply, and not merely his ability to perform examples under given rules. It is precisely at this point that persons fresh from school and those without thorough knowledge, who have prepared themselves especially for the examination, fail. It is an easy matter to learn a simple rule, such as that for the multiplication or the division of common or of decimal fractions, and to apply it to an abstract exercise; but it is a different and much more difficult matter to acquire, without thorough training and practical experience, the power to analyze a concrete problem, and determine by what rule or rules it should be solved. And this power of analysis is usually found to exist only in those who have had some practical business training and experience.
Although not rigidly adhered to, the rule of the Board has been, to give, in this branch of the examination, one question falling under each of the following heads: (1) common fractions; (2) decimal fractions; (3) percentage or discount; (4) interest; (5) calculation of customs duties; (6) purchase or sale of United States bonds; and (7) conversion of gold into currency, or of currency into gold. Sometimes a question in coinage or the conversion of currencies is added.
An effort has been made in this branch of the examination to give exercises of an instructive nature. The questions in coinage belong to this class. For instance, the weights and the fineness of gold and silver coins of the United States and of other countries being given, the candidate is asked to find the value of one in terms of another; or the relative values and fineness of gold and silver and the weights of gold and silver coins are given, and the candidate is required to ascertain the value of the silver coins in terms of the gold, or the
These questions, which are susceptible of indefinite variation and multiplication, are both practical and instructive. So also are those pertaining to the depreciation of the currency, the relative values of different classes of bonds, the calculation of customs duties, the apportionment of national bank circulation, and the calculation of commissions, of the values of army-rations, of exchange, of duties paid by national banks, of the hire of transports, and of interest, discount, and percentage, to all of which more or less space has been given in the examinations.
At the same time, an endeavor has been made to exclude absurd
questions—such as are sometimes found in elementary treatises for
In examinations for promotions to the higher grades of clerkships,
The Board has been desirous of giving the heads of offices as large a share as they desired to take in the preparation of examinations for promotion. Great care is, however, taken not to transcend the scope of examination established by the regulations, and to avoid giving an undue advantage to those candidates who have been assigned to branches of work which would familiarize them with the questions furuished. In a large accounting office, for instance, a clerk might be engaged in a responsible position for years, without having any occasion or opportunity to become familiar with the arithmetical computations peculiar to the office. To avoid placing such a clerk at a disadvantage, questions requiring for their solution a technical knowledge, such as he has had no opportunity to acquire, must be excluder, and only such exercises introduced as can be solved by a general arith metical knowledge. • To illustrate: The Board, in the earlier examinations for promotion, required the candidates to compute the salary of a clerk for a given period, presuming that all candidates of fair intelligence would have learned the rule by which their salaries are computed, (s. e., by the quarter.) But it was found that so large a proportion of candidates, including many of superior intelligence, were imorant of the legal mode of computing salaries, that this exercise did not furnish a fair test of relative competency, and it was, there. fore, excluded from subsequent examinations.
The seventh sheet contains a simple exercise in the statement of an