« ПретходнаНастави »
Massachusetts, and Wisconsin for the state service; in Illinois for the state charitable institutions; in Indiana for certain public institutions, such as the hospitals for the insane; and in Colorado and some other commonwealths for certain state institutions.1
The state civil service laws follow, in general, the model of the national law. They provide for the division of public offices into two groups: the classified and the unclassified. The unclassified service includes all offices filled by election or by the legislature or by the governor and senate, and certain other specified offices. The classified service comprises all other positions, which are subdivided into three groups: the competitive, the non-competitive, and the exempt. The competitive group includes such officers as clerks, copyists, stenographers, cashiers, civil engineers, bank examiners, expert accountants, and the like. The offices in this group are filled by examinations or promotions and transfers.
The civil service laws require all examinations to be practical in their character and to relate to such matters as will fairly test the relative capacity and fitness of persons examined to discharge the duties of the service which they seek to enter. For the various places requiring technical skill, such as the positions of factory inspector, health officer, civil engineer, chemist, and expert accountants, special examinations in the respective branches are given; and in no case is reliance placed solely on book knowledge. The persons who are successful in the examinations are grouped according to the services which they seek to enter and arranged in the order of their respective grades. Whenever a vacancy occurs, the appointing officer must choose from the three names highest on the roll of candidates for the particular service.
The non-competitive class includes those minor employees whom it is impracticable to include in the competitive class, such as bakers, carpenters, stone-cutters, and picture-framers. Appointments to the non-competitive class are made after noncompetitive examinations conducted according to rules.
In the exempt class are the deputies of the principal executive officers, the chief clerks, and skilled and unskilled laborers not included in the other classes.
1 Twenty-fourth Report of the United States Civil Service Commission, pp. 163 ff.
The civil service laws, as a rule, provide, furthermore, that removal must not be made for political reasons, but only for incompetence or insubordination. In case of removal, the employee affected usually has the right to be heard in his own behalf.
In the state of New York, the administration of the civil service law is in the hands of a state commission composed of three members, not more than two of whom may be adherents to the same political party, appointed by the governor and the senate. In conjunction with the governor, this commission has devised rules governing the civil service and planned examinations for the different branches of the service. It is the duty of the commission to prescribe and enforce rules for carrying the civil service act into effect, to keep records of its proceedings, make investigations, and report on the state of the civil service and the conduct of officials under the law, and to compel the attendance of witnesses whenever required for an investigation.'
In spite of the desirability of getting rid of the partisan control in filling public offices, there is no doubt that there are some grave objections to the present civil service methods. As Governor Black of New York pointed out, in his message of 1897, experience, character, tact, and even muscle may be of more importance in some cases than a fraction of a per cent in an examination in geography, and, therefore, the discretion of the appointing power should not be entirely subordinated to the merit system. An attempt, however, to carry this idea into effect by a law providing that no more than fifty per cent should be given to merit, and that the remainder of the rate (representing "fitness") should be given by the appointing officer or some persons designated by him—that is, an attempt to make room for "experience, character, tact, and even muscle"-- led to a disorganization of the civil service and the introduction of the old partisan methods; and it was shortly abandoned on the urgent recommendation of Governor Roosevelt.
The requirement that removal can be made only on definite charges, which the removing officer must substantiate, undoubtedly results in keeping in the public service a large number of incompetent and inefficient employees who would not be
In its twenty-fourth Report for the year 1907, pp. 72-75, the commission showed that in the state service there were 9509 employees, of whom 851 were unclassified, 626 exempt, 3092 competitive, and 4940 non-competitive.
retained in similar private employment for a single day. If, however, removals can be made wholesale, the result is the reintroduction of the spoils system, which would bring into the civil service very probably just as many inefficient and incompetent employees.
Another objection to the civil service system is the rule which requires the heads of the different branches of administration to select even important subordinates from the list of persons examined. It is often urged that where a place is somewhat confidential in character or involves fiduciary responsibility, the appointing officer should be allowed to choose some one in whom he has confidence as a result of personal knowledge. Heads of departments, therefore, are generally bringing great pressure to bear upon the civil service commission to secure the exemption of large numbers of employees from the operation of the merit system.
On this point the New York civil service commission observed, in 1906, that the practicability of filling positions of trust and responsibility through competition had been fully demonstrated. While appointing officers feel embarrassment at times in the limitations imposed by the law upon their freedom of choice, they recognize that the results are in the main beneficial, and that the conditions with these restrictions wholly removed would be anything but helpful to the public service.
An inquiry addressed by the president of the New York commission to the several state and county officers as to their experience with appointees selected from the eligible lists "brought frank and interesting replies. None advocate the rescinding of the law or returning to the spoils system; a few criticise the law or its administration, or point out specific instances where competition has failed. Others make suggestions for the improvement of methods, but the great majority bear testimony to the efficiency of the law and to the wholesome effect upon the public service of the enforcement of the rule of competition." 1 Within recent years the civil service commission of New York has endeavored to improve the public administration in several ways. In 1906, it held a conference of the civil service commissioners of the various localities of the state for the purpose of
Report of the New York Civil Service Commission (1906), p. 10.
cultivating an esprit de corps among the officials, promoting a higher degree of efficiency in the administration of the law, and energizing all branches of the civil administration in the state. Delegates from twenty-nine different municipalities and representatives of the national Civil Service Commission, a civil service reform society, and two organizations of civil service employees were present; and all manner of concrete problems relating to their particular duties were frankly discussed by experts of large experience. Another plan for improving the state of public service was adopted by the New York commission, in 1905, when it began the practice of making periodical examinations into the work of municipal civil service commissions throughout the commonwealth. These investigations have not only exposed serious abuses but have stimulated local commissions to an improvement of their methods.
The relation of the organizations of civil service employees to the public presents some very complex problems.
THE legislature should occupy a high position in the esteem of the citizens of a commonwealth, for in it are made the laws which most vitally affect their lives and property. Unlike the "Congress of the United States, the state legislature is not restricted to the exercise of certain powers, but enjoys every right and authority which is not expressly denied to it by the Constitution of the United States or the constitution under which it is erected. It has control over the whole domain of civil law; that is, it lays down the rules governing contracts, real and personal property, inheritance, corporations, mortgages, marriage and divorce, and other civil matters. It defines crime; that is, it prescribes those actions of the citizen which are to be punished by fine or imprisonment or death. It touches the property of the citizen not only by regulating its use, but also by imposing upon it a burden of taxation. Finally, it has control over that vast domain known as the police power, under which it makes regulations concerning public health, morals, and welfare, devises rules for the conduct of business and professions, and in other ways restrains the liberty of the citizen to do as he pleases.
When one looks at this vast range of power and then turns to the history of the state legislatures, he is astounded at the decline in public esteem which they have suffered within recent years. They have too often been corrupt, negligent, and wasteful. They have in many instances made laws for the benefit of private persons and corporations and bartered away charters and franchises; and they have even gone so far in some states as to repudiate portions of the public debt. These charges are not based upon mere hearsay evidence. The discreditable record of many of our state legislatures is written in the constitutions of the states, and described more fully in the debates of the