The Civil Service Act, as it is commonly called, or the “Act to Regulate and Improve the Civil Service of the United States,” as it is officially designated, was passed in January, 1883. It provides for the appointment of three commissioners, a chief examiner, a secretary, and other employes, and makes it the duty of the commissioners to aid the President in preparing rules for carrying the new act into effect, to make regulations to govern all examinations held under the provisions of the act, and to make investigations and report upon all matters touching the enforcement and effect of the rules and regulations. The address of the Commission is Washington, D. C.
Number of Positions.There are over 395,000 positions in the executive civil service, about half of which are subject to competitive examination.
Qualifications of Applicants.Applicants for examination must be citizens of the United States, and of the proper age. No person using intoxicating liquors to excess may be appointed. No discrimination is made on account of sex, color, or political or religious opinions. The limitations of, age vary with the different services, but do not apply to any person honorably discharged from the military or naval service of the United States by reason of disability resulting from wounds or sickness incurred in the line of duty.
How Application Must Be Made.Persons seeking to be examined must file an application blank. The blank for the departmental service at Washington, railway mail service, the Indian school service, and the government printing service should be requested directly of the civil service commission at Washington. The blank for the customs, postal, or internal revenue service must be requested in writing of the civil service board of examiners at the office where service is sought. These papers should be returned to the officers from whom they emanated.
Examinations are open to all persons qualified in respect to age, citizenship, legal residence, character, and health. More than one thousand local boards of examiners, designated by the commission, conduct examinations, make certification of eligibles, and perform such other work as may be assigned to them, at postoffices, custom houses, mints, and other local government institutions.
Register of Eligibles.The name of each person obtaining a grade of 70 on the basis of 100 is entered in the order of his rating on the register of eligibles, with the names of those entitled to military or naval preference under Section 1,754 Revised Statutes, ahead of all others.
Appointments.In case of a vacancy not filled by promotion, reduction, transfer, or reinstatement, the highest three of the sex called for on the appropriate register are certified for appointment, the apportionment being considered in appointments at Washington. In the absence of eligibles, or when the work is of short duration, temporary appointments, without examination, are permitted. The number of women applying for clerical places is greatly in excess of the calls of appointing officers. The positions to which the largest numbers of them are appointed are those of assistant microscopist in the branch offices of the Bureau of Animal Industry at the various stock yards throughout the country, and teachers, matrons, seamstresses, etc., in the Indian service. A few receive appointments as stenographers and typewriters in the departmental service, and a few are appointed to technical and professional places.
Preference Claimants.-Persons who served in the military or naval service of the United States, and were discharged by reason of disabilities resulting from wounds or sickness incurred in the line of duty, are, under the civil service rules, given certain preferences. They are released from all maximum age limitations, are eligible for appointment at a grade of 65, while all others are obliged to obtain a grade of 70, and are certified to appointing officers before all others. Subject to the other conditions of the rules, a veteran of the civil war or of the war with Spain, or the widow of any such person, or any army nurse of either war, may be reinstated without regard to the length of time he or she has been separated from the service.
Dismissals and Removals.The civil service rules provide that no person in the executive civil service shall dismiss, or cause to be dismissed, or make any attempt to procure the dismissal of or in any manner change the official rank or compensation of any other person therein, because of his political or religious opinions or affiliations ; that no removal shall be made from any position subject to competitive examination except for just cause and upon written charges filed with the head of the department or other appointing officer, and of which the accused shall have full notice and an opportunity to make defense; and that no person in the executive civil service shall use his official authority or official influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or controlling the result thereof. Such rules also provide that any person in the executive civil service who shall willfully violate any provision of the civil service act or rules shall be dismissed from office.
Political Assessments.The civil service act contains provisions forbidding any person in the service of the United States from levying upon or collecting from persons in the executive civil service contributions to be devoted to political objects, the collection of such contributions by any person in any public building of the United States, or discrimination against persons who do not make such contributions or render political service. A violation of any of the provisions concerning political assessments, or their collection in a public building of the United States, is declared to be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or by such fine and imprisonment both in the discretion of the court. The act also declares that when rules to carry its provisions into effect shall have been promulgated, “it shall be the duty of all officers of the United States in the departments and offices to which any such rules may relate, to aid, in all proper ways, in carrying said rules, and any modifications thereof, into effect.”
Publications of the Commission.Among the publications of the commission for free distribution are the following :
Manual of Examinations, giving places and dates of examinations, rules by which papers are rated, descriptions of examinations, specimen questions, and general information.
The Civil Service Act, Rules and Regulations.
The Annual Reports of the Commission, showing its work. These annual reports, of which nineteen have been issued, may be consulted at public libraries.