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The present system has been in operation too short a time to fully test it in all points, but sufficiently long to evolve certain results which are interesting and valuable. Appended hereto you will find a statistical resume of the applications and examinations in the collector's department, the operations in the other departments here being too limited for statistical uses.
CAN pii) ATES.
The candidates who have presented applications have been mostly residents of New York. From the stress laid upon the fact of such residence in many of the applications, it is evident that it was considered as in some degree attecting the success of the candidates, and it is probable that in some cases a temporary residence was given as the permanent. The large majority of the applicants were born in New York and the adjacent States. . As a class they appeared, by personal inspection, to be fully equal, physically and intellectually, to the average of their fellow-citizens, and superior in the latter respect to the crowds who have hitherto presented them selves for a similar position upon a change of administration. This is said understandingly and is partially attributable to the fact that the best qualified office. seekers generally aspire to the higher-paid positions and only accept the lowest as a pis-aller.
A recent examination, to till a vacancy in the lowest grade of group A, in the sub-treasury, collected about fifteen candidates of exceptionally high culture.
The previous occupations of the applicants were very diverse, showing the absolutely democratic basis of the system, in spite of recent denunciations of its aristocratic tendencies. And the popular feature is further demonstrated by the fact that seventy-two (72) per cent. had received no other education than that afforded by the common schools, while less than seven (7) per cent, were college graduates.
As to ages they extend from nineteen (19) to seventy-eight, (7S, ) the average being between thirty-eight (38) and thirty-nine (39) years. These two items of education and age entirely dispose of the prediction that the Civil Service was about to be filled by youths fresh from the colleges and academies. Of ten (10) names reported as qualified for admission to the highest group in the collector's office, six were of persons who had received a common-school education only, three an academic, and one a partially collegiate; their ages averaged thirty-four (34) years, and they comprised three clerks, two merchants, two book-keepers, one book-binder, one iron-founder, and one lawyer. The defective knowledge of the English language on the part of several competitors of foreign birth placed them at disadvantage. Great consideration had to be given to the nervous apprehensions of the candidates. All were, in this respect, more or less affected—some through the mere novelty of their position; others by the fear of failure in a matter which they deemed of great personal importance; and many through constitutional temperament. Every possible effort was made to allay such nervous excitement, and especially to discourage haste; for this reason the time employed by the respective candidates was disregarded, and they were incited to be deliberate.
SCOPE OF EXAMINATION.
As the several schedules of questions employed here had been previously submitted to your Board, they require no explanation. They were carefully graded from the simple examination for admission to the lowest grade up to the more exacting trials for higher positions. After a trial of the several schedules, I can suggest but few changes so far as their scope is concerned. Where the requirements of certain positions demanded, as of a measurer in the surveyor's office and a check clerk in the sub-treasury, special subjects were added to the regular schedules.
The opponents of Civil Service reform have had much to say concerning the absunlity and inexpediency of a “schoolmaster's test” for admission to the service. Sohan objection could be based only upon the presumption that the examinations woe to be essentially scholastic. The questions submitted by the boards here to tandidates for admission have been so simple as to require for their solution nothing lound the resources of an ordinary common-school education, and to demand less would simply bring the service into contempt and be an outrage upon the people, who demand a satisfactory administration of the public business.
The schedules for examinations for promotions embraced many questions of a tolinical character, but only on such points as clerks in the lower grades should have become conversant with, and a knowledge of which was necessary in the position competed for.
AS("ERTAINING THE RESULTS OF EXAMINATIONS.
The mode of ascertaining the results of examinations prescribed by the ninth Rolation has proven very satisfactory in practice. The process of giving to each slot a relative weight is especially commendable, and has furnished a ready means fossing the distinctive requirements of the different positions and of measuring to dative attainments of the competitors. The addition of a value for “general attle to the other requirements is also much approved by the results, as it affords tle only means of estimating certain desirable qualities, such as rapidity of accom Polilot when allied to correctnes, neatness of execution, breadth of capacity or *Ratlity, general adaptation to the service, dependent upon age and physical Wor, and special qualifications for the particular position. In examinations for Pollution the item “general aptitude” has been employed to cover past efficiency in the service. The relative standing of the several candidates upon all the merely educational *||listinents can be ascertained with very near accuracy, while the general aptitude **ited by the appearance of the examination papers as a whole and close per*al observation of the candidates and their method of execution. It is difficult to “allish an absolute standard of excellency for penmanship, concerning which there to naturally exist a great diversity of opinion; but making legibility and facility to loses, it is not difficult to decide relative merit and to approximately determine to oute standing. There is a somewhat uncertain element in allowing for the "Isless of candidates, since it may or may not be a temporary disturbance. Tio is persons of a temperament characterized by great nervous energy and who * temarkable for their business capacity, but who under unusual conditions are “lard and confused; these are to be distinguished from another class, whose ner"lots, morbid in character and constant in manifestation, is developed in lack of "iklite fatal to business efficiency. The experienced eye can discriminate between *lists; those of the first class display in the course of the examination a con"all limination of agitation and soon recover their self-control; those of the latter this evince an increasing perturbation in their answers, frequently spoiling several links before finishing one and misconstruing the questions in their haste. Differ*in the critical ability of the examiners must be taken into account, and which "my b, constitutional or originate in diversities of education. Within each Board * oriances do not materially affect the result, since the tendency of the several jolts of the three members is towards a just mean, and the best critic can "all give such excellent reasons for his opinions as convert the others or lead to a compromise resulting in a practically just award. But as between different Hoards this diversity of judgment might produce inharmonious action, which would injuriously reflect upon the whole system : in this city such a result has been obviated by the constitution of the Board of Revision and Appeal which has secured a concord of action in the several Examining Boards. It is only through the constant surveillance of your Board that a standard everywhere uniform can be insured. And I take this occasion to express on behalf of the members of the several Boards in this city their great indebtedness to Mr. Graves of your Board. His cheerful and earnest advice and endeavors have been of great service, and to them can be largely ascribed whatever measure of success has been accomplished. It is by such patient and unselfish labors that all great reformations have been achieved. While human intelligence and mental acquirement cannot be measured with the accuracy applicable to material things, it is possible to ascertain relative attainment and the result of the experience by the Boards here is that such an estimate can be justly based upon the processes now in use; and that, while details might be amended, the general system is satisfactory. As an evidence of this it may be stated that not a single appeal has been made from the action of the Examining Boards: nor has there been any complaint by the unsuccessful candidates.
RESULTS OF EXAMINATIONS.
The examinations revealed certain defects in the education of the average American citizen which were a source of surprise and mortification. The ignorance in regard to the geography, history, and government of the United States, displayed by very many of those examined, was not only very great but often ludicrous. That in a country proud of its educational advantages, whose citizens are politically sovereigns, there should exist among apparently intelligent persons an ignorance concerning the simplest matters of the government, history, and geography of their native land, is certainly very humiliating to our national pride, and indicates great defects in our methods of education which should be repaired. It also suggests that the Constitution of the United States should be taught or read with comments, in all our schools. It is noticeable that candidates born and educated in Germany were much more conversant with these important domestic subjects than the majority of native candidates. In mathematics the greatest weakness was displayed in the treatment of fractions —more particularly the vulgar; not over one-half the candidates exhibited even a fair knowledge of the processes. In decimal fractions the errors were generally made in multiplication and division by a wrong position of the decimal point. As vulgar fractions are, in general practice, in this country but little used, problems involving them would not have been introduced into our schedules had not our customhouse clerks to deal with the measures and values of every foreign country, in many of which the decimal system has not been adopted. In the practical mathematical questions, involving simply the reduction of weights, &c., proportion and interest, the average proficiency was fair. In the elements of book-keeping or accounting, a general ignorance was exhibited, except by those who had made the subject professional. In penmanship the range was large, and, though few could be rated high, the general average was fair. In orthography and grammar the attainment thus far has induced a higher average standing than on any other subjects. No particular report or analysis of the results in the technical examinations for promotion can be now given. The greatest care has been taken to make such examinations turn upon purely practical questions.
Gh. NErAL d'EDUCTIONs.
Among the questions discussed concerning the present system, before its final adoption, was how far competition would arouse emulation within the service, and to what extent it would be objectionable by exciting jealousies and animosities. Experience here has been too limited to permit a determination of either of these points, but sufficient has been gained to show a favorable contrast with the old system. The onslaught of office-seekers upon the custom-house at a change of administration has been often graphically depicted by pen and pencil, and it would be useless to repeat; but it may be said that the passions aroused in the pursuit of place were not extinguished by success, but remained to injure the service. In the struggle for place, which was almost a physical contest, jealousies were fierce, nor were they abated when the official experienced the results of arbitrary promotions and beheld others, less fitted than himself, elevated far above him. If occasionally personal vanity is wounded by failure in competition, it is a light affliction compared with the keen sense of injustice aroused by appointments and promotions merely arbitrary and not at all dependent upon qualification. It may be that certain old officials of a slow temperament have felt themselves injuriously affected by the new rules, but no marked expression has been made. Should the system continue in operation it may be expected that beneficial results will be exhibited outside the service, and that a certain degree of emulation may raise the standard of educational attainment in the schools. Not that the system would inspire any special education for the service, and thus in any way encourage the foolish fears that an office-holding caste is to be established, for the tendencies of the system are purely democratic and the service freely opened to all, with the single requirement of cultivated intelligence. But the fact that there is such a requirement would give a tone to general education. It is claimed that one of the purposes of our free-school system is to teach our future citizens how to correctly use their sovereign powers, and, it may be added, how to practically administer the minor details of public administration when selected for that purpose. Experience thus far would indicate that the new system will not foster office-seeking as a profession, and that the aspirants for the service are reduced in number by the transfer of requirement from the domain of political patronage to that of intelligent fitness. I may be permitted to add that the several Federal officials in this city possessing the power of nomination have cheerfully acquiesced in the new system, and further that I desire to testify to the zeal and efficiency of the members of the several Boards. All of which is respectfully submitted. SILAS W. BURT, Chairman Board of Revision and Appeal. J. H. SAviLLE, Esq., Chairman Treasury Eramining Board, Washington, D. C.
Statistical Summary of 157 Applicants for Admission to the Ciril Serrice