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each of its major projects with a representative from the Commission's district office at Atlanta, Ga., on the board—the personnel office of the Tennessee Valley Authority could be used if the Authority so desired to serve as this local board—these boards would announce appropriate examinations for trade and the lower grade construction positions, rate the papers and establish registers and certify the highest three eligibles for each vacancy to the appointing authority.
The stenographic and clerical positions would be handled in regular procedure through the Commission's district office at Atlanta.
The higher professional, engineering, and technical positions could be handled similarly through the Atlanta office if the Authority preferred, or through the Commission's central office where most of the country-wide professional and engineering registers are maintained.
For all of these positions the examinations would result in specific numerical ratings being given to the eligibles and their being informed when they so desired of their relative standing on the registers, and the highest three eligibles being certified for appointment within the certification area established for each particular class of positions. This is an open democratic method of selecting Government personnel which is not subject to the danger expressed on page 54 of the congressional committee's report, the opportunity for personal favoritism in the selection of salaried personnel is evident.
The advantage in having a central personnel recruiting agency with decentralized administration throughout the United States is obvious over a system that permits several agencies to set up competing personnel departments.
Dr. White in his report to the joint committee recommended that the Tennessee Valley Authority be brought within the regular civilservice system. The committee on page 61 dissented from Dr. White's recommendation and stated that at some time in the future “the possibility of bringing the junior and routine positions under regular civil service should be considered."
There are three common misapprehensions concerning the civil service merit system of the Federal Government under the act of 1883.
One is that only routine and lower-grade positions can properly be administered through a civil-service system; the second is that such system is inflexible; and the third is that the best qualified persons will not compete in examinations for public employment.
All three misapprehensions are myths.
Every year the Commission holds a great many examinations for the highest-grade positions, administrative, professional, scientific, and technical, in the Government service, and well qualified eligibles are secured. Within 2 or 3 years an examination was held for Director of Unemployment Insurance, Railroad Retirement Board, at an annual salary of $10,000, and the highest eligible was appointed to the position and is now serving in the position. Through the years the Commission has held examinations for bureau chiefs, and years ago secured as the Commissioner of Reclamation, through competitive examination, Dr. Mead, who is recognized as the leading expert in the field of reclamation. He was No. 1 on the register of eligibles
and he was selected and served for many years in the position until his death.
On the second point of alleged inflexibility, it may be stated that the civil-service system under the act of 1883, is highly flexible except that very properly it must be based on open competition and the highest eligibles secured in examination be certified. It is possible to provide and has been provided under the civil-service system for local examinations for local positions, for State-wide examinations for higher-grade State positions, and for district-wide examinations for district positions. Each examination must be practical in character and relate to the duties of the work to be performed, and the Commission as a result of this mandate from Civil Service Act, holds annually more than 1,200 different kinds of examinations.
On the third point, that the best qualified persons object to taking civil-service examinations, the facts show directly to the contrary. The two examinations cited above for which the Director of Unemployment Insurance for the Railroad Retirement Board and Dr. Mead were secured are illustrations of this. At the junior level a recent study of 2 examinations held throughout the United States within the past 2 years also showed to the contrary. These examinations were for junior engineer and junior chemist, and it was found that a majority of the highest 500 eligibles on each of these registers came from the first quarter of their graduating classes.
The Federal civil-service system, based on offering open and fair competition to the citizens of this country, is democratic in law, in principle, and in administration; and to the extent that Congress accords it sufficient funds the system can be made to operate successfully in every community where Federal personnel are employed.
Senator GEORGE. What would happen down there if you had a change of administration and your directors were all changed and they proceeded to organize the force all over again?
Mr. VIPOND. It never has been so in the history of the Commission since 1883.
Senator GEORGE. But it is not under civil service-
Mr. VIPOND That is what the committee points out in its report, the congressional committee, that there is such a danger.
Senator GEORGE. I think you would have chaos. I am perfectly convinced in my own mind that, with an agency, for instance, like our internal-revenue collectors, there is an immense loss to the Government every time there is a turnover; not only an immense loss but lack of service to the taxpayer and to the public who has to be served.
Mr. VIPOND. Senator, if I may, about a dozen years ago there was a joint congressional committee appointed to consider taxation, and in the report of the committee the statement was made that if the deputy collectors of internal revenue were brought under the civil-service system, at least $1,000,000 would be saved a year.
Senator GEORGE. In the turn-over period; yes. It is hard to estimate. It would be startling if there was any way of knowing, because even now there are many taxpayers, many people liable to taxes of one kind or another, who do not know what their liability is. They have no means of finding out. The force is new and has to
go to school, as it were, for a couple of years before it can be very competent to serve the public and the Government.
Mr. VIPOND. Yes, sir.
Senator GEORGE. I live down near the T. V. A., and they have a fine organization, but it is conceivable that if there were a political turn-over in the country, they wouldn't disorganize or they wouldn't be disrupted; but, left out of the civil service, as it now stands, there certainly would be some disorganization and some interruption of the whole force, and I think we would have a chaotic condition down there.
Senator MEAD. Of course, Senator, unlike the Internal Revenue Service, which could change overnight by the appointment of a new Commissioner of Internal Revenue, the T. V. A. would remain practically intact until a majority of the Commission was reappointed.
Senator GEORGE. That is true-
Senator GEORGE. That is true, but there is a possibility of confusion and chaos in an organization so widespread, and with so many different activities as the T. V. A. has under its jurisdiction. They have a good organization and carry it on well, but it has taken some time to build it up and there is no assurance that it would survive a political change for a very long period. It would, of course, until the majority of the directors, as you say, was changed, but when that happened you might have a pretty serious situation down there, it seems to me.
Senator MEAD. Of course another point that we ought to consider, I
presume, in connection with the T. V. A., and I am firmly convinced that it should eventually come under the civil service, is that the construction period will, of course, require different personnel selection and administration than the maintenance and operation period that will follow.
As I understand it, Boulder Dam and a great many of these similar projects have been completed without the benefit of civil service.
Mr. VIPOND. Fort Peck was constructed under the civil-service system.
Senator MEAD. That is in operation now?
Mr. VIPOND. Yes; and it was constructed under the Engineer Department at Large, and the maintenance of it is being carried on under the Civil Service Commission.
Senator MEAD. I am talking about projects that were completed prior to the initiation of the T. V. A.
Mr. VIPOND. I see
Senator Mead. The T. V. A. claims that they obtained a great many skilled men who are too old to take civil-service examinations under the rules of the Civil Service Commission; that they are moving them constantly from one community and one State to another; that the construction work will be completed very shortly and that it will be completed without any interference—political interferencebecause it is already all authorized, and that they are going through with it as rapidly as possible. Seven or eight of the dams are about completed now. These skilled men who have been with them since the beginning of the work would, of course, be covered into the civil service, but very shortly their work will be completed entirely, and they will be without civil-service status or protection unless they are covered into the civil service.
Mr. VIPOND. If they were covered in, they would have eligibility for transfer to other organizations.
Senator MEAD. That would be of great benefit to the personnel, but the T. V. A. argues that the selection of these men in the initial instance, because of their skill and experience on other similar projects, may have or might have been prevented by a Nation-wide civil-service examination; in some instances they were too old and in some instances they probably had some physical difficulties, and in some instances perhaps the quota law would prevent their appointments.
Have you a Nation-wide quota law for mechanics?
Mr. VIPOND. As a general thing, the area of certification for that type of position is localized. Under the civil-service system they have a local board of examiners composed of employees of the agency with a representative from the Commission's district office serving with them, and whenever they have any rating work to do, they announce an examination and receive the papers, rate them, and send out confidential vouchers, inquiries, and rate the papers, with our man serving with them, and establish a register. That takes relatively a very short time.' Then they certify the highest three eligibles from that list, and they have, of course, the standard age limits that are fixed under the laws of Congress because of retirement. It is generally 15 or 17 years below the retirement age of their particular position. But once they get a status, they can be transferred anywhere in the Government service without regard to age.
Senator MEAD. That was my opinion, that the quota law didn't apply to mechanics.
Mr. VIPOND. It does not.
Senator MEAD. And I didn't agree that it should not. It occurs to me that it should; I am not sure about that, however.
Mr. FLEMMING. The point there is that the quota law doesn't apply to any positions in the field, that is, to any positions outside of the District of Columbia.
Senator MEAD. For instance, clerks and carriers in the local post offices must live within the jurisdiction. But mechanics on the T. V. A. project are moving over States, and it occurs to me that every State ought to be permitted to participate in the quota of the mechanics employed in that region.
Mr. VIPOND. As a rule, those local boards, while they announce the examination only within the area, the general area-say a Statewide area—if there are two or three States covered it is within those two or three States, but persons from outside may file their applications with the board; but publicity is given only throughout the territory, publicity is not given throughout the country for T. V. A., nor would it be for Fort Peck, it would be limited to the area around Fort Peck, the State or the States covered by the Fort Peck area.
Senator MEAD. I think it is all right where the project is localized, but the Tennessee project is not localized, and it seems to me it ought to be open to the country.
Mr. VIPOND. It would be open to the several States.
Senator MEAD. But not the country, and the country pays for it; and the people of the country, if this is a democratic institution, ought to participate.
Mr. VIPOND. Well, they could go there.
Senator MEAD. But they wouldn't know about it for the reason that there would be no publicity.
Mr. VIPOND. This report shows that they had 150,000 applications filed with them from all over the country, and on their present staff they have people from every State in the Union.
Senator MEAD. But limiting the publicity to the area, when the projects are interstate in character, isn't the democratic process that the professor from Cornell said was the motivating influence of T. V. A. However, I believe where the project is local, and where the present quota law applies properly, we have no grievance, but it occurs to me that where they cover a number of States, then it ought to be national and under the quota law, and all the mechanics of my State and everybody else's State ought to have a right to participate in any examination which comes under the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission.
I just wanted to bring out the fact that they presented to the committee, when the committee investigated the "T. V. A., the dual problem they had, the problem of the construction work, of the construction period, of moving this vast force from one community to another, of putting up temporary shacks, and of completing the 10-dam project; and the second problem of operating and maintaining.
Now with the second problem, I believe the full committee favored civil service. With the construction problem, I think there was a division, although there were some of the group who believed in the civil service even for temporary work—the construction work.
Then there was another problem that Dr. White didn't touch on, and that was the determined struggle to destroy T. V. A., even to the point of sabotaging T. V. A. That was in the air and was occasionally found in published articles. It was in a division of public sentiment, and those in charge of the T. V. A. felt that they ought to be very careful about the selection of employees.
Two employees might be able to pass an examination, and yet one might be bitterly opposed to the experiment of the Government in this particular field, and the other one might be a determined, enthusiastic advocate of that particular policy.
That practice was prevalent, it was brought out. Files were stolen from the T. V. A., and ransacked by people that probably had no right to look into them.
So there was an internal struggle that T. V. A. was coping with to the best of its ability. Therefore, they wanted to be very careful about the selection of employees.
Whether it was of major importance or not, I don't know, but it was presented to the committee.
And then there was the problem of favoritism. Many positions were filled by a commissioner or someone else in high authority, and these appointees served very loyally and faithfully until the division of policy developed among the commission itself, and then the benefits of the merit system asserted itself, because there was a militant