Page images

(Witnesses: Olmsted, Lovering.)

Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir; and if Mr. Hyde and my predecessors had made their estimates in definite units there would not have been a variation in any year exceeding 5 per cent, and usually less than 2 per cent, and for some years one-half of 1 per cent, and for a series of years seven-tenths of 1 per cent variation on the average. That shows how accurate this is. It shows how accurate it is for a series of years, taking them by and large, one year with another, and if that system that I have now inaugurated is kept up by my successors, in ten years

from now they will have a basis that will be Mr. LOVERING. Still, whether it is a correct basis or not, the relative comparison of one year with another-

Mr. OLMSTED. Is of value.
Mr. LOVERING. No matter what the basis is, it is of value?

Mr. OLMSTED. Yes; that is, whether it compares with last year, ten years ago, or not.

Mr. LOVERING. It is taken into consideration both by the cotton exchanges in New York and New Orleans and by manufacturers ?

Mr. ÖLMSTED. Yes, sir; that is what I said a while ago.

Mr. LOVERING. Whether it is right or wrong. I think it is wrong, but at the same time it depends.

The CHAIRMAN. That is, you think that there is an element of uncertainty about it?

Mr. LOVERING. I think that there is an element of uncertainty in establishing the basis, because here they say that a certain section, under certain conditions, should produce so much cotton per acre. Then they go on and they use fertilizer on that section and boom up the production to the extent of 20 or 30 pounds per acre. Now, you say that is the normal crop; I say, what is the normal crop ?

Mr. OLMSTED. Every man who reports is supposed to know what a normal crop in his locality is, and he reports on that basis. In certain sections of Texas they make a bale of cotton to the acre. They do it right along.

Mr. LOVERING. Oh, yes; some of them make two bales.

Mr. OlMSTED. One of our correspondents in Texas, in a certain month, when the crop is half developed, will say to himself, “By George, the indications are, from my best judgment, that I will not make over three-quarters of a crop this year," and he will report the condition as 75. That is a plain proposition, is it not? Perfectly plain. That is the way with every man who reports to us, and I say, taking these reports year by year and month by month, and comparing them and analyzing them, and applying a formula to them that is very simple, we have found them to be substantially accurate as accurate as anything of that sort in the nature of things can be.

Mr. LOVERING. They are valuable, Mr. Olmsted?
Mr. OLMSTED. Very valuable, yes.
Mr. LOVERING. But I can never agree that they are accurate.

Mr. OLMSTED. Well, that is a matter of opinion, of course, Mr. Lovering. Nothing that is labeled an estimate is expected to be exactly accurate.

Mr. Lovering. That is the basis of all I am saying.

Mr. OLMSTED. We are making an estimate, sir. We are not a census bureau.

We have not the money to take censuses with.

(Witnesses: Olmsted, Lovering, Zappone.)

or so.

Mr. LOVERING. It is an aggregate of guesses.

Mr. OLMSTED. It is an aggregate of the consensus of opinion of thousands of people thousands upon thousands reporting independently, and we make estimates that I believe are more accurate than any other estimates made in any other way could possibly be. I think they are strictly scientific estimates. They are something more than mere estimates.

Mr. LOVERING. So long as they stick to it, I do not care how they get their original formula. I have only been trying to get at how they got their original basis, their unit, or one of their units, and I have never yet been able to understand it.

Mr. OlMSTED. You understand now how we make the final estimates, do you not? Do you not think that is proper?

Mr. LOVERING. Oh, yes.

The CHAIRMAN. It seems that pretty radical changes in the line of improvement have been made at the Bureau within the last year

Mr. OLMSTED. I think that I have improved it very greatly, Mr. Littlefield.

The CHAIRMAN. I know nothing about the subject, but I think that I can appreciate the force of the explanation. I think that is true.

Mr. ZAPPONE. Mr. Chairman, I want to substantiate that.

The CHAIRMAN. I want to say just here that there are quite a number of cotton manufacturers in my district, and I received a letter from A. D. Barker, agent of the Abell Manufacturing Company, of Lewiston, approving the continuation of the reports. This was in April, 1906.


The CHAIRMAN. And one from Mr. Bean, representing the Androscoggin mills of Lewiston, disapproving it; and another one from Mr. R. W. Wheaton, representing the Cabot Manufacturing Company of Brunswick, also disapproving it, and that is all the correspondence I have.

Mr. OLMSTED. I want to say to you and Mr. Lovering will bear me out in this) that the New England Association of Cotton Manufacturers, in their annual meeting, had a report from Mr. McColl, in which he indorsed the reports, and I think the association itself did-did it not?


Mr. OLMSTED. And wanted a continuance of them, and that represents the body of cotton manufacturers in the country better than any letters can.

Mr. LOVERING. They did not do it unanimously.

Mr. OLMSTED. No; but it was done by the convention as a body, and it went on record, and Mr. McColl sent me a copy of those proceedings, and also of his address, in which he indorsed them, and said that the estimates were as close as could be expected.

Mr. LOVERING. I think they are valuable and comparatively satisfactory.

Mr. OLMSTED. I am very much gratified to hear you say so, Mr. Lovering; I am, indeed.

(Witnesses: Olmsted, Lovering.)

Mr. LOVERING. Do you know what the Census Bureau expends on this cotton business?

Mr. OLMSTED. No. I think their appropriation is in the neighborhood of something over $200,000. The appropriation will show, right away. Mr. LOVERING. For what? Mr. OLMSTED. For cotton alone; for getting the ginning statistics. Mr. LOVERING. For cotton alone?

Mr. OlMSTED. Yes, sir. That is more than our entire appropriation for the Bureau for corn, wheat, oats, and everything. They have to enumerate it, and naturally they have to pay people to collect this information.

The CHAIRMAN. You have in your Bureau four classes of clerks, ranging all the way from $1,000 a year up to $1,600, I think it is?

Mr. OLMSTED. We have more than that. We have them up to $1,800. We have them from $720 up to $1,800—all the grades except $900.

The CHAIRMAN. Beginning at $900?

Mr. OLMSTED. We have some at $720, I believe, and some at $600.

The CHAIRMAN. You begin at $600 and run up to $1,800?
Mr. OLMSTED. In the classified service; yes, sir.

(The further examination of this witness was thereupon temporarily suspended.)

STATEMENT OF VICTOR H. OLMSTED, ESQ.-Resumed. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Olmsted, what is the distinction between the services performed by these various clerks?

Mr. OLMSTED. Our Bureau is like every other bureau of the Government; we have all sorts of work to do, from addressing envelopes and packing up supplies to put into the mail to the most complicated, difficult kinds of computation. We have files to keep and supplies to deal out and all the multifarious little details that pertain to bureau work.

The CHAIRMAN. What I wanted to get is this, Mr. Olmsted, and you can give me the information in very short order. For instance, Here is a $600 clerk and then a $720 clerk and so on up.

Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. What I want to know is the different kinds of work that these different clerks do, if there is any difference in the kind of work. If they are all employed about the same business and doing in a general way the same work, I want to know that. On the other hand, if a $600 clerk does a certain kind of work, a $720 clerk a different kind of work, and so on, I would like to have you describe that; and if it is a fact that the increases in salary are substantially for the purpose of holding out to men entering the service an inducement to enter it and continue in it, in order to later on get a larger compensation, I would like to know that. Do I make that perfectly clear?

Mr. OLMSTED. Perfectly clear; yes, sir. I understand that.

The CHAIRMAN. And without going into too much detail I would like to have you differentiate between the various classes, beginning

(Witness: Olmsted.)

with the $600 class, so that I can see, right on the record, why it is that one man is getting more salary than another.

Mr. Olmsted. Yes. To begin with our lowest-paid clerks, we have some few typewriters who are not stenographers, but who are operators on the machine and who get $600 a year. They are not very good ones. Then we have envelopes to address, thousands of them; some $600 people do that, and some $720 people do the same work. Then we have a little higher-grade work to do. We have some copying to do; we have some tabulations to make; we have computations to make. It frequently happens that a clerk drawing a certain salary will be doing the same kind of work that another clerk drawing a higher salary will do, so that a clerk getting, say, $1,200 may do substantially the same kind of work that a clerk getting $1,400 or $1,600 may do.

The CHAIRMAN. And will they be producing the same results?

Mr. OLMSTED. The same results in the end; but in point of fact there is a difference in the efficiency of those clerks. One clerk is better than another at the same kind of work. No two people are exactly of the same efficiency and worth the same amount of money. These different grades were established originally, I suppose, for the purpose of differentiating between the efficiency of the different clerks and also, as you suggested a while ago, to hold out inducements to people getting lower salaries to work hard and do efficient work, so that they could hope for an advancement. The matter of seniority also enters into it. Where two clerks are equally efficient, the age of the clerk--not only seniority of employment, but age and experience—all enter into this proposition. Two men may both be tabulators, side by side, and one may be a much more efficient tabulator than the other one.

The CHAIRMAN. If he can produce better results, of course he is entitled to more compensation.

Mr. OLMSTED. He is entitled to more pay, of course. Congress appropriates a certain amount of money for a certain number of clerks of a certain class and another amount of money for so many clerks in another class. We endeavor in adjusting those salaries and making promotions to recognize merit. When a vacancy occurs in a higher grade we will select the best clerk in the next lowest grade, so far as we can—the person who is the most efficient, who is the most attentive to his duties, who comes the most regularly, who has proved himself to be the most dependable clerk. We will give him the promotion. He is entitled to it.

The CHAIRMAN. In other words that is, the clerk that renders the most valuable service to the Government for the compensation received ?

Mr. OLMSTED. That is the idea.

The CHAIRMAN. What is the predominating feature in the fixing of these grades and in the promotion of these clerks? Is it the incentive to enter the service with the expectation of getting a larger salary, or is the predominating feature the efficiency of the work and the results actually accruing to the United States?

Mr. OlMSTED. I think the predominating feature is the experience and efficiency of the clerks. Secondly, this system is holding out to the clerks all the time the possibility of promotion if they are efficient

(Witness: Olmsted.)

and prove themselves worthy of promotion. But the predominating factor in making promotions and in advancing one clerk from a low grade to a higher grade is his efficiency as compared with other clerks receiving the same salary-his experience, his attention to duty; all those things that go to make up a reliable, dependable employee.

We may have two men getting exactly the same salary, of equal tenure of office. One man may be a very bright man, a very good man, a very rapid clerk, and the other man may be dull and stupid and inefficient. When an opportunity comes to advance one of them, by the death or resignation of some clerk in the next higher grade, we would promote to that vacancy the valuable clerk, the man who renders the greater service, because he is worth more money.

The CHAIRMAN. You promote him because he can earn more?

Mr. OLMSTED. Because he can earn more and because he is of more value to the office and is worth more.

The CHAIRMAN. Of course that determines his value?
Mr. OLMSTED. Certainly.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you have any trouble in getting clerks for your Department?

Mr. OLMSTED. We never have had since I have been in charge there. Whenever a vacancy occurs we promote to the higher place from the lower ranks and call on the Civil Service Commission for a clerk to fill the lower grade office.

The CHAIRMAN. You mean since you have been there—since 1905 ?
Mr. OLMSTED. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Would that go back to April, 1904?

Mr. OLMSTED. I presume my predecessors did the same thing. I do not think they always did. I think that Mr. Hyde's policy was sometimes, when a vacancy occurred, without promoting anyone in the office, to bring "new blood," as he called it, into the office; to bring in inexperienced men and train them in the work and give them higher salaries over the heads of people who had been there and had learned the work. He did that sometimes with new men. I know he did that with me.

The CHAIRMAN. That would go to contraindicate that policy, would it not?

Mr. OLMSTED. He did not always do that. He did that when he got hold of a man that he thought would be a particular acquisition to the office; and I think he was justified in doing it. I am a little selfish in that, I expect, because when I came back from the Hawaiian Islands (I made an investigation of the labor conditions in the Hawaiian Islands) and was appointed to the office of Assistant Statistician there were men in the office who aspired to that position; but Mr. Hyde offered me the position. I was getting $2,000 a year in another Bureau. Mr. Ilyde came to me and offered me that position as Assistant Statistician, statistics having been my life business. He offered me that position and I accepted it. He went outside of the office and brought in a new man (myself) for that work, and gave me a position that ordinarily might have been filled by promotion in the office. The CHAIRMAN. At what salary? Mr. OLMSTED. At $2,200.

« PreviousContinue »