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Mr. VIPOND. Clerk-carrier examinations are always local, not Nation-wide.
Senator MEAD. Say any Nation-wide examination.
Mr. VIPOND. Stenographer and typist. The last one we announced was announced a year and a half ago. There were 112,000 applications filed.
Senator Mead. That was for stenographer?
Mr. VIPOND. For stenographer—and it took us a long while to review those applications; also to make arrangements with the various schools in some 700 examination points in the country, so that we could get the schools for examinations. We could only get the schools on Saturday.
That examination was held, the persons were examined and the papers rated, the eligibles secured and the register established, in about 15 months from the time
Senator MEAD (interposing). From the time the notice was sent out?
Mr. VIPOND. Yes, sir; it was established last December. But the slowness, the delay, was due to the fact that we did not have sufficient staff, didn't have the appropriations to handle it.
Senator MEAD. A very large list of applicants and a rather small personnel to handle it?
Mr. FLEMMING. That is right. Personally, I feel that that is entirely too long for the establishment of a list of eligibles of that kind, and that is one of the matters that we presented to the respective appropriations committees in connection with our 1941 budget, and as you know, the Congress has granted us an increase of approximately $1,000,000 for 1941, so that it is going to make it possible for us to render a better service, a quicker service.
Senator MEAD. Take a customs examination; is that by districts or Nation-wide?
Mr. VIPOND. The last one was Nation-wide. The Department wanted it held along broad district lines, and that was a countrywide examination for customs inspector.
Senator MEAD. When was the notice for that examination sent out?
Mr. VIPOND. It was sent out about a month or so after the one for stenographer and typist, but it was a part of an examination for eight other positions. It included immigration patrol inspector, customs patrol inspector, customs inspector, narcotics inspector, special agent in the Intelligence Unit of the Internal Revenue Service, and one or two others-a law investigator—and we had 240,000 persons file for those nine examinations.
Senator MEAD. What is the status of that examination; has the list been published ?
Mr. VIPOND. The written tests have been rated and some of the papers have gone out for character investigation on some of the lists.
Senator MEAD. The list is not available for appointment as yet? Mr. VIPOND. Not yet.
Senator MEAD. That indicates that there are a great many applicants for these positions, that the positions are very popular, and you have an inadequate force, but in the course of the operation, great economies probably result in that you are called upon to bar
gain around for schools. and various facilities, in which you might hold the examinations?
Mr. VIPOND. Yes, sir.
Senator Mead. Of course, it would be better and much more efficient, and I think more fair, if there was less delay so far as the applicant and the agencies of the Government are concerned.
Mr. VIPOND. Yes; it would save money all the way around, because there would be a less number of declinations; if we could provide a list promptly after the examination, there wouldn't be so many people decline.
Senator MEAD. However, that is a problem that you have for the present time, and you may, when economic conditions improve, work out of it.
Mr. VIPOND. Yes, sir.
Mr. FLEMMING. We get in a vicious circle there, Senator, when we get into a situation of that kind, because with 240,000 persons having filed, and with this long delay, naturally they write in to find out what has happened to the examination, and of course they write to Senators and Members of the House,
Senator MEAD. I have heard something about that.
Mr. FLEMMING. So that a large share of our correspondence in a great many instances is traceable to that particular fact. It would be economy all the way around if we were in a position to clean up an examination of that kind very quickly.
Senator MEAD. Except in one or two details—it contributes to the surplus in the post-office revenues.
Mr. FLEMMING. That is right.
Mr. FLEMMING. No; but Mr. Vipond would like to make a few remarks.
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead, Mr. Vipond.
STATEMENT OF KENNETH C. VIPOND, ASSISTANT CHIEF
EXAMINER, CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION Mr. VIPOND. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the success of the application of H. R. 960, both with respect to bringing the positions affected by the bill into the competitive classified service and the servicing of such positions thereafter, necessarily will be measured by the adequacy of the funds granted by Congress to carry on the continuous administration of the bill if it becomes law.
This fact was recognized by the Tennessee Valley Authority in its initial organization and its subsequent history because it has allocated large sums of money to its personnel activities. This fact is shown by the report of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Investigation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, being Joint Committee Report, Seventy-sixth Congress, first session, pursuant to Public Resolution No. 83, Seventy-fifth Congress. On page 85 of appendix A to this report is a table showing the expenditures of the Personnel Department by years and the number of employees. The last year covered by this table is 1938 with expenditures of $643,956 for å personnel force of 12,791 on June 30, 1938. This is a per
capita cost of $50.35 for personnel administration of the Tennessee Valley Authority. If the entire expenditure of $272,206 for training activities is deducted from this total, it leaves $371,750, a per capita cost of $29.06.
The per capital cost of the United States Civil Service Commission for about the same period 1937–38 was $4.56; the cost for the Canadian Civil Service Commission was $9.89 per capita; the California Commission, $9.76; Maryland, $7.33; Michigan, $8.62; Wisconsin, $6.65; and New York commission was estimated at $7 per capita.
Senator MEAD. Mr. Vipond, while we are on that point, and in order that I might become more conversant with just what is involved, let me ask this question:
In the administration of personnel in the Tennessee Valley Authority, as compared with the administration of personnel in the Postal Service, we will say, by way of illustration, the T. V. A., as I understand it, not only holds their examinations and trains the selected applicants, but it is necessary for them to assume the responsibilities which would be assumed by the Postal Service, for instance, after the civil service completes its work.
They have to supervise the personnel, they have to inspect the personnel, that is, they have a corps of inspectors, and they have to take complete charge and do all the work that the United States Civil Service Commission, plus the Postal Service, will do in the handling of personnel.
Now, isn't there something in that that involves this element of cost ?
Mr. VIPOND. There probably is, we do not know the additional functions that they engage in
Senator MEAD (interposing). In other words, if the T. V. A. had a Civil Service Commission of its own, aside and apart from personnel training, aside and apart from personnel selection, transfer and supervision, and so forth, then we would know more accurately just what would be the difference in per capita cost; but I think involved in the T. V. A. per capita cost are many other items, not necessarily items involved in your cost.
Mr. VIPOND. That is true, but neither have they a retirement law to administer, nor members of family law, nor apportionment law—and so far as I have been able to find out—they do not seem to have a system of administering veterans' preference, although the veterans' preference statute apparently applies to T. V. A. I can find no place where they have set up any system for administering veterans' preference in the T. V. A.
Senator Mead. We were told at one time that they had a vast social and personnel program in that they supervised communities and community life, and not only built cities, but operated these cities.
Mr. VIPOND. I don't think that comes in the personnel cost.
Senator MEAD. Probably not, but it just goes to show that they have a great many duties and obligations that may be comparative to the administration of the insurance and compensation, and various other elements, because they aid families when injuries result, under their own methods, which may be comparative to the administration of an unemployment insurance law; and they compensate people who live in the valley for social and physical losses resulting from the development of Ť. V. A.
They have a rather elaborate system, so I understand, that in some items may compare with the items of extra administration that you are bringing out now.
Mr. VIPOND. Well, I said that I know there are additional items of work that they do.
Senator MEAD. At any rate, you are talking about a per capita cost that involves one agency, the T. V. A., with the duty of holding the examination, making the selections, and then after the appointment, following it through with personnel guidance, and so forth, on the one hand; and on the other, you are talking about a dual responsibility, part of which is exercised by the United States Civil Service Commission and the other part of which is exercised by the agency involved, like the Postal Service.
Mr. VIPOND. That is correct, but of course we do have work to do in connection with changes in status of an employee after he enters the service.
Senator MEAD. That is right, but to a degree it is shared by the two agencies, where in this instance it is assumed by the one agency.
Mr. VIPOND. Without question, but also this shows that our cost is much below that of any other civil service commission.
Senator MEAD. Yes; I think it is highly complimentary of the United States Civil Service Commission, and looks very favorable from the point of the New York Commission.
Mr. VIPOND (continuing). The report of the special congressional committee shows that the Tennessee Valley Authority engages in personnel activities beyond those authorized to the United States Civil Service Commission, and with two exceptions noted in the report these expenditures are regarded by the committee as warranted because of the greater efficiency secured. The Tennessee Valley Authority, however, does not have an apportionment law to administer, the members of family law, nor any retirement law, and apparently it does not provide for veteran preference in its personnel recruiting. These laws are administered by the Civil Service Commission in its work, and yet its per capita cost in 1938 was $4.56 as compared with $29.06 for Tennessee Valley Authority. It is recognized, of course, as the number of personnel increases the per capita cost should be less; but there is a wide difference between $29.06 for Tennessee Valley Authority and the $4.56 for the United States Civil Service Commission.
The joint congressional committee, on page 53 of its report, states: The committee has been fortunate in obtaining the assistance of Dr. Leonard D. White in making a detailed study of the personnel experience of the Authority. Dr. White, associate professor of political science of the University of Chicago since 1920, is a former minority-Republican-member of the United States Civil Service Commission, and an outstanding authority on civil service.
Dr. White recommended that the Tennessee Valley Authority be placed under the civil-service system; but the committee recommended to the contrary.
On page 53 of the committe report the statement is made: The evidence indicates that personal and professional acquaintance played a part in the appointment of the technical and supervisory staff, especially in
the first years of rapid growth Dr. White found a common opinion that personal acquaintance is still an important factor in new appointments, though less so than in the past. However, the system of the personnel department gave wide latitude of choice among eligible applicants, and tended to protect the Authority against poor individual judgment by having each applicant interviewed and checked by several responsible officials prior to employment.
The opportunity for the playing of personal and professional acquaintance is possible because as stated on page 71 of appendix A to the joint committee's report,
No written examination is given in most cases, and no numerical grade is assigned in any case. It follows that no rank order is established. Written examinations outside the skilled labor field and the clerical force are
No person appears to be able to ascertain his relative standing on a register of eligible for the Tennessee Valley Authority.
In contrast, under the Federal civil service system numerical grades are assigned to the eligibles and they are able to ascertain their relative standing among the eligibles.
The difference between the two systems gives foundation for the statement on page 54 of the joint committee's report that, the opportunity for personal favoritism in the selection of salaried personnel is evident.
The committee further stated thatThe fact is inescapable that the Authority personnel is remarkably able, honest, and efficient at the present time.
It should be noted, however, that the system of no numerical grades being assigned and of the establishment of unranked registers does give opportunity for personal favoritism in the selection of personnel.
The foregoing facts give point to the statement on page 73 of appendix A, by Dr. White, that:
These considerations suggest the advisability of adopting the examining and certifying procedures of the United States Civil Service Commission and of extending the Civil Service Act to Tennessee Valley Authority employees. Other considerations point in the same direction.
On grounds of general public policy it is beyond doubt that the people of the United States desire and expect the permanent organs of the Federal Government to operate on the basis of the impartial method of selection provided by the competitive examinations of the established merit system. It would be undesirable for the Tennessee Valley Authority to seek an exception in its favor.
Administering the Tennessee Valley Authority under the regular provisions of the civil-service system would raise no new_problems for the United States Civil Service Commission to solve. It has for many years established procedures and conducted examinations for the prompt supplying of qualified employees for various branches of the Federal Government engaged in construction activities similar to those of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The Engineer Department at large of the Army and the Reclamation Service are agencies both of which have conducted construction work of the greatest magnitude under civil-service auspices.
Briefly stated, the procedure would be that for the trades and construction force a local board of examiners would be established either at the central office of the Tennessee Valley Authority or at