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procedure, whatever procedure is determined, and that these jobs should not be given on the basis of personal influence.
Senator GEORGE. Was this point brought up before the House committee?
Mr. BABCOCK. I don't know.
Senator GEORGE. I do not remember the position the Commission itself took on that. I was not here during the entire testimony.
Mr. MITCHELL. We took no position at all on that particular point. We did say, when the matter was brought up by Mr. Kaplan, that the language as to who shall take this examination should be clarified. However, that did not refer to this particular point.
Senator GEORGE. There is a big question of policy involved here, it seems to me. Here is an administrative officer, here is a person in an administrative position, he may or may not be certified by the head of his agency for the examination and there is no remedy. I think I asked that question before. He has no remedy at all. İs the Commission prepared to take any position on that?
Mr. MITCHELL. I could only speak personally on that now. My own position is that the best judge of the efficiency of the employee is, generally speaking, the head of the department. However, I see no particular objection to having it the other way.
Senator GEORGE. Then he is required to take the qualifying examination even after the head of the department or agency selects him?
Mr. RAMSPECK. Mr. Chairman, may I say something there?
Mr. RAMSPECK. I said before you came in, Senator George, that provision was included in the bill that I introduced in the House, solely because it was a part of the reorganization bill which passed the Senate and was recommitted in the House, and also part of the bill introduced by Senator Mead in the House as a member of the House Committee on Reorganization. Personally, I would be glad to see it eliminated. I never have felt it was exactly fair to say to some employees, “if the supervisor approves, you can take the examination, and if he does not, you cannot."
Senator BYRD. Would you be in favor of requiring them all to take the examination ?
Mr. RAMSPECK. Yes.
Senator GEORGE. That was in accord with my view. It looks to me like any person in an administrative position that has been covered under civil service by order of the executive department ought to have the privilege of taking the examination.
Mr. MITCHELL. I might say the position of the Commission on this is the desire of getting the positions under civil-service law.
Senator GEORGE. I am raising no question about the examination. I think there should be an examination. I think anyone in an administrative position, when his agency or his service has gone under the civil service, ought to have the opportunity to qualify, if he can.
Mr. BABCOCK. May I interpose, Senator, by saying that that position is reinforced tremendously by the fact that the day before he makes up his list for certification to the Civil Service Commission, the supervisor may drop that employee without the employee having
any recourse. As Senator Mead said this morning, we have cases in which a man has been employed under the emergency agencies who was not eligible when he received that appointment, to appointment under the Civil Service Commission's provisions because of physical or other similar reasons. For instance, in the emergency agencies we have quite a number of people who are, because of physical deficiencies, ineligible to attain a civil-service status, because their inclusion within the civil service would necessitate the inclusion under the Retirement Act and they would constitute too great a risk for appointment under the Retirement Act. The commission would decline them eligibility, and that declination of eligibility has resulted in appointment in a special agency, a non-civil-service agency.
I have a case on my desk in which one of the employees in the seryice now being included under the Federal Security Agency is 68 years old. He was refused classification by the Commission in view of his physical condition. He is a receptionist in the employment office in Washington, probably perfectly efficient. Whether or not he should have been excluded from civil service, he was so excluded because of his physical condition, and yet he satisfactorily performs the duties of his present job, and he ought to be permitted to do so.
I still am in favor of the provision that the examination should go to all. I am not in favor of the provision in this bill, however. I think it should be corrected in that provision which provides for the compulsory removal from service on failure of passing the examination. I am convinced that failure to pass an examination does not present a case of inefficiency.
Senator GEORGE. Your view is that they shall not be separated from civil service merely because they fail to qualify?
Mr. BABCOCK. That is correct. I think the Commission may probably in the future, after it considers that matter, take that view, in view of the fact that here again you are raising a group of people who object to the whole civil-service procedure because it was unfair to them, and they can demonstrate that it was unfair to them.
Senator BYRD. Don't you think, so far as the public is concerned, that the efficiency of the operation of the Government under civil service is very much more important than that some 25,000 people feel they did not warrant dismissal because of the examination ?
Nr. BABCOCK. Yes, Senator, I agree perfectly, but I question very seriously whether or not we will not lose the civil-service principle if we arouse an army of people who have legitimate grievances against the civil service. In other words, this legislation must be so written that it will arouse no legitimate controversy against the civil-service principle.
Senator Byrd. The same principle of a competitive examination would apply to the new personnel. If you assume the examination is not a test of the person's efficiency then some very efficient people may be excluded that take the competitive examinations now.
Mr. BABCOCK. Certainly, Senator, but the person who alleges he may not be appointed because he failed in the original appointing examination cannot get over to the public, whereas the person who is fired from the position, who is removed from the position, has a demonstrable cause for criticism.
Senator BYRD. Your concern is more for the public reaction than it it is as to whether or not this will improve the efficiency of the civil service.
Mr. BABCOCK. I would like to see the civil service extended to every nonpolicy-making position in the Federal Government. I do not like to see the Congress, on the evening of an election, pass legislation which will lay the whole civil-service system open to such criticism. I do not want to talk politics to the Civil Service Committee, but we should be realistic. The fact is that the opposition to this measure in the House-I may be wrong and the chairman of the Civil Service Committee of the House will correct me if I am wrong—the opposition to this measure in the House was Republican. Is that correct, Mr. Ramspeck?
Mr. RAMSPECK. The majority; yes.
Senator BYRD. That was due to the fact that they thought the Democrats would blanket in the employees.
Mr. BABCOCK. I have no doubt that is true, but that group of people, Senator, who are opposing this bill, and who will be augmented by the Democrats who are unable to stay in any office, creates danger, in my opinion, for the Civil Service Act. I hope I am looking at a ghost and that that ghost is not substantial.
Senator BYRD. It goes back to whether or not this is an examination which is too difficult, and also the rating for experience. Now, if liberal rating was given for experience, I do not see why there should be any objection to it.
Mr. BABCOCK. Senator, of course I can hardly hope to convince either you or any other person with respect to any issue.
Senator BYRD. I am concerned with it because I do not want to do anybody an injustice; on the other hand, we must maintain standards of efficiency in the system if we put the employees under a standard classification.
Mr. BABCOCK. Senator, I am going to be in your corner on the apportionment business, but on the general proposition here, every time an examination for a position in the public service is given, no person who really knows examination procedure, who has had experience with it, can even dare to allege that that is an exact method of choosing between the applicants. The principal virtue of civilservice system of choosing appointees to the public service is that it eliminates outside factors in the choice. It is not that the examination procedure itself is of very exact mechanical or statistical benefit. For instance, you have constituents, without question, who will pass an examination and receive a rating of, we will say, 92, and who, in a subsequent examination, make 77, or the other way around, and so it goes. The commission must testify that the examination procedure is the best known method, but it is not exact. For instance, the Commission's examination does not take into consideration, except in very few cases where they can give a very profound investigation, does not even take into consideration the element of industry. We hire thousands of public servants through the Civil Service Commission and we make no inquiry as to whether or not those people are industrious, and a very scanty inquiry is made as to whether they are honest.
Senator BYRD. I agree with you that it is not exact, but it is the foundation upon which the civil service has been built.
Mr. BABCOCK. Exactly; when applied to appointment, Senator, but very inexactly when applied to retention in the service. In other words, the civil-service examination, as a measure for retention in service, is not a valuable instrument. This is a question which is not at all political, but I think everybody must agree on that who studies examination procedure.
Here we have an effort in this bill to eliminate—I do not say that the effort is for the purpose of eliminating, but one of the results of the bill is the elimination-without an acceptable criterion, more than one-quarter of all the emergency employees. Now, you saw a committee from the T. V. A. come before you and testify that they did not want to be included in this bill. I am not privy to their councils, I do not know what occurred in their councils, but I am convinced that at least a part of the reason was the incertitude, the lack of stability in the future when considering this vast machinery that must be gone through with. I am also certain, Senator, that that uncertainty is going to prevail more and more with the emergency employees.
Insofar as the bill itself is concerned, if we get the bill over, if we extend the classified service, I believe with Mr. Kaplan, I believe with Mr. Baker, I believe with Mr. Mitchell, and with all the other people, with Mr. Ramspeck, that the thing to do is to get these positions under civil service, and work out that system which will bring it about with the least possible break-down of the confidence of the public in the civil-service system, and with the least possible damages to the incumbents, because, after all, they are human beings. In other words, I am not testifying against the principle of extension, I am simply testifying with respect to the modus operandi.
If there is nothing further on that subject, I will pass to another point.
Senator BYRD. I understand then with the exception of the apportionment, and also this compulsory dismissal, you approve the bill?
Mr. BABCOCK. I have several other specific problems.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Babcock, you are here right along, are you not?
Mr. BABCOCK. Yes, sir; I will be available at your convenience.
The Chairman. Then the committee would appreciate it if you would continue your statement at our next meeting in order that we may hear Congressman Nichols at this time.
(Mr. Babcock's testimony continues on April 17, 1940:)
STATEMENT OF HON. JACK NICHOLS, REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Mr. Nichols. That is very kind of you, Senator. I am afraid that my testimony probably will not be of a great deal of help to you, gentlemen. I am very happy to have the opportunity, however, of expressing my views on the pending legislation.
I am in hearty disagreement with it. I think the fact that it proposes to blanket Government employees into the civil service without examination is contrary, on the face of it, to the accepted
mode of procedure in selecting employees for the Government. I think if it is going to take in certain relief agencies, or temporary agencies, that it certainly should take them all in. I realize that in making this statement I am probably not making it in the place where it will meet with much agreement, but it is my feeling that civil service has failed, by and large, in the big job that it is presumed that it would accomplish in maintaining the merit system for the employment of Government workers. I think that the Civil Service Act itself, if it is possible should be amended to make civil service what it is presumed to be, a merit system. I think that it has missed out a long ways, I think that it has become rather a cloak of protection thrown around a great deal of inefficiency in Government, and I would support whole-heartedly any amendment to the bill which would increase the efficiency of all the Government departments.
I think some departments, like the Post Office Department, probably the Treasury and some others, are doing rather a grand job with their demerit system and other systems of maintaining a very high grade of efficiency, but there are many other departments of the Government who are absolutely failing to do it, and to that extent the law, and the intent of the law, is broken down.
If I may I should like to direct, briefly, my remarks at the very much discussed Keller-Nichols amendment, which I understand the Civil Service Commission says is not workable. I am not in a position to argue with those gentlemen because they are in possession of the machinery by which they carry on the enforcement of civil. service laws. I am rather inclined to agree with them that probably it will not be worked, whether it is workable or not, because they certainly have not worked the quota system to date, and they have failed in other major degrees, in my opinion, in carrying out the intent of the civil service acts, and since they are interested, to a greater or lesser degree, in the passage of this legislation as written, I, for one, would not have expected them to agree with the KellerNichols amendment, that that amendment was a good amendment or that it would work.
I personally cannot see anything so wrong with the amendment. After all, the States which were given quotas and accepted them in good faith, certainly could be presumed to think that although they might be a little out of balance—they probably never could strike a complete balance on the quota-they certainly had reason to believe that it could never get as much as 4,000 percent out of balance, or 200 percent out of balance, or 400 percent out of balance, and those are only rough figures.
It seems to me States like my own State, should have some place in the neighborhood of 60 percent of our quota. We do not want citizens of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia—those employees under civil service who are already there—we do not want to see a single one of them lose their jobs, we want to leave them right where they are, just in status quo, not until we catch up with them, because they are so greatly over their quota that the Government could not stand us catching up with them unless other employees were to be discharged, but we simply just want them to mark time until we get up to what we have been promised in our quota, not to catch up with them.