February 26, 1879
Hon. John Sherman,
Secretary of the Treasury
Sir: The President, by letter of 4th instant, having requested that appointments and promotions in this office should be made in accordance with the civil-service rules of 1872, and having also made a similar request of the naval officer, it has been deemed best to make, if practicable, the same rules applicable to all the offices this city included in the order of the Treasury Department dated August 7, 1872.
With that view, and after several conferences, it has been agreed by the assistant treasurer, naval officer, appraiser, surveyor, and myself to submit the inclosed modifications of the rules of 1872, and should they meet approval to put in operation forthwith the rules so modified.
I am very respectfully,
E. A. Merritt, Collector
[The modifications submitted with the above letter are omitted, and instead are inserted the following regulations, based upon said modifications, approved by the President March 6, 1879, and amended with his approval in January, 1880.]
REGULATIONS GOVERNING APPOINTMENTS AND PROMOTIONS IN THE CUSTOMS SERVICE AND SUBTREASURY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK
I. Every application for appointment to a vacancy in the lowest grade of any group in the offices of the collector and the surveyor of customs, the naval officer, the appraiser, and the assistant treasurer of the United States in the city of New York must be made in the handwriting of the applicant to the head of the office in which employment is desired. It must state: (1) The position to which the applicant desires to be appointed;* (2) place and date of birth; (3) legal residence, and how long it has been such; (4) education; (5) occupation, past and present; (6) whether ever employed in the civil service, and, if so, when, how long, in what branch and capacity, and reasons for leaving the service; (7) whether ever in the Regular or Volunteer Army or Navy, and if so, when and in what organization and capacity; (8) applicant’s name in full.
II. The applicant must certify to having composed and written the application without assistance; to the truth of the statements which it contains; to being a citizen of the United States, and faithful to the Union and the Constitution; and, if ever in the Regular or Volunteer Army or Navy, to having been honorably discharged.
III. Every application must be accompanied by a certificate, signed by two trustworthy and responsible persons, well known in the community in which they reside, that the applicant is personally well known to them to be of good moral character and of temperate and industrious habits, and to be faithful to the Union and the Constitution of the United States.
IV. Every application must also be accompanied by the certificate of a practicing physician as to the applicant’s general health and physical capacity to perform the duties of the position to which he desires to be appointed: Provided, however, that no appointment will be made to any position in active outdoor service unless a surgeon of the United Marine-Hospital Service shall certify that he has made a physical examination of the applicant and found him fit for such position. Such surgeon’s examination may be postponed until required by the nominating officer.
V. Applications filed previously to the adoption of these regulations must be renewed or perfected in accordance therewith to entitle them to consideration. No applications for appointment as day or night inspectors in the custom-house from persons under 21 years of age, or for other positions under these regulations from persons under 18 years of age, will be considered. In compliance with section 1031 of the Treasury Regulations now in force, persons over 45 years of age are not eligible to any group the lowest grade of which is confined to persons receiving an annual salary of less than $1,800. This prohibition, however, shall not be applied to those who have been honorably discharged from the service and are otherwise qualified.
VI. All applications upon their receipt will be carefully examined by the board of examiners, and those which do not conform in every particular to the foregoing requirements, and such as show that the applicants are manifestly not qualified for the duties of the position desired, will be rejected and the applicants so notified. All other applicants will be designated as eligible for examination, and will be so notified. Inasmuch as applications are to be made in writing and each case is to be decided upon its merits, personal importunity will have no weight.
VII. Not less than five days prior to each examination a notification to appear at a time and place to be stated will be mailed to the eligible candidates, unless it shall be found impracticable to examine all of them, in which case a practicable number will be selected under the second regulation* for the civil service promulgated April 16, 1872, and notified to appear for examination. Those not selected for examination will remain on the eligible list. If any person notified to appear shall be unable to do so on account of sickness or other causes, he must promptly advise the board of examiners, in person or by mail, of his inability to attend, and his name will remain upon the eligible list; but any person attending an examination will not be allowed to subsequently plead sickness or other disabling causes as an excuse for defects in examination.
*The positions for which applications may be made in the several offices are:
Collector’s and surveyor’s office: (1) Inspector, at salary of $4 per day; (2) clerk, at annual salary of $1,200; (3) weigher’s clerk, at annual salary of $1,200; (4) gauger’s clerk, at annual salary of $1,200; (5) night inspector, at a salary of $2.50 per day, and clerk, at an annual salary of less than $1,200.
Naval officer; (1) Clerk, at an annual salary of $1,200; (2) clerk, at an annual salary of less than $1,200.
Assistant treasurer’s office: (1) Clerk, at an annual salary of $2,000; (2) clerk, at an annual salary of $1,200; (3) clerk, at an annual salary of less than $1,200.
Appraiser’s office: (1) Examiner, at an annual salary of $1,800; (2) clerk, verifier, or sampler, at an annual salary of $1,200; (3) clerk, verifier, or sampler, at an annual salary of less than $1,200; (4) openers and packers, at a salary of $3 per day.
VIII. All candidates for appointment to positions the annual salary of which is $1,200 or more, who shall appear in accordance with such notification, will be subjected to a competitive written examination upon the following subjects:
(1) Copying from dictation; (2) arithmetic-fundamental rules, fractions, proportion, percentage and interest, reduction; (3) elements of accounts and bookkeeping; (4) geography, history and government-general questions, principally such as relate to the United States; (5) elements of English grammar, chiefly orthography and syntax; (6) writing and briefing letters; and (7) penmanship.
Candidates for appointment to positions the salary of which is less than $1,200 will be examined in like manner upon the following subjects: (1) Penmanship; (2) copying; (3) elements of English Grammar, chiefly orthography and syntax; and (4) fundamental rules of arithmetic.
Proficiency in penmanship, orthography, and punctuation will be determined principally by a review of the examination papers, and as far as possible the examination in all the branches will be confined to practical exercises.
In examinations for appointments to positions requiring special or technical knowledge such additions may be made by the board of examiners to the list of subjects as the nature of the case may require.
For temporary employment to meet casual exigencies in the public business, or for special services as experts, appointments may be made without examination; but no such appointment shall be made for a term exceeding three months, which may be specially extended for a similar term only; and no such appointment shall be made to any regular or permanent position.
IX. The various subjects of the examination may be subdivided, if thought desirable, into classes, and to each subject or class a relative weight, according to its importance in the examination, will be assigned by each board of examiners. The mode of ascertaining the result of the examination will be as follows: The degree of accuracy with which each question shall be answered will first be marked by the board on a scale of 100. The average of the marks given to the answers to the questions in each subject or class will next be ascertained. Each average will then be multiplied by the number indicating the relative weight of the subject or class, and the sum of the products will be divided by the sum of the relative weights. The quotient will determine the candidate’s standing in the examination. Relative weight will be assigned not merely to the special qualifications of the candidates, but to their general aptitude, as shown in the course of examination. Candidates will be examined during office hours, and in no case will their examination be continued more than one day.
X. The board of examiners will prepare a list of the persons examined in the order of their excellence, as proved by such examination, beginning with the highest, and will then certify to the head of the office the names standing at the head of such list, not exceeding three. When more than one appointment is to be made, the vacancies will be numbered, and the first three names will be certified for the first vacancy, the remaining two and the fourth for the second vacancy, the remaining two and the fifth for the third vacancy, and so on for the whole number of vacancies; but if, after selecting one of any three certified for appointment, the head of the office shall object to another presentation of either of the remaining names, it shall not be again certified.
XI. The examination papers of any candidate who shall have passed a minimum standard of 75 per cent, but who shall fail to be appointed, will, if requested by the candidate, be brought into competition with those candidates who shall compete for vacancies of the same class and nature occurring within one year: PROVIDED, however, that the candidate shall not have been specially objected to by the head of the office under the last preceding regulation. No candidate who upon examination has been marked below the minimum will be allowed to again compete within one year from the date of such examination, unless for admission to a lower group.
XII. All examination papers will be filed, and will at all times be open to the inspection of those interested, under such restrictions as may be imposed by the head of the office.
XIII. There shall be one examining board for all appointments and promotions under these rules in the offices of the collector, surveyor, and naval officer, which shall consist of the surveyor and one representative to be nominated each by the collector and the naval officer, and three alternates, to be nominated one each by the collector, the naval officer, and the surveyor: PROVIDED, however, That in examinations for positions in the surveyor’s office the surveyor’s alternate shall act on such board. The examining boards in the offices of the assistant treasurer and the appraiser shall consist of three persons, with three alternates, to be nominated by the assistant treasurer and the appraiser, respectively. All nominations as members and alternates on the examining boards shall be submitted to the Secretary of the Treasury for his approval. The heads of the several offices shall constitute a board of revision and appeal, which, upon appeal from any person examined or from any member of an examining board, shall revise the decision of said board.
XIV. Whenever the head of an office shall notify the board of examiners for such office that a vacancy which he desires to fill exists in any grade above the lowest not excepted from the rules and regulations for the civil service, the board will fix a time for holding an examination for the purpose, and at least five days before the same is to take place will cause a notice to be posted in a conspicuous place in the office, stating the grade and group of the vacancy, the date of the examination, and that the vacancy is to be filled by a competitive examination of applicants from the next lower grade, unless non in such lower grade be found qualified, when those in the next lower grade may compete, or if their be none in any of the lower grades qualified, competition will be open to applicants. In any examination for promotion, if the competitors from the next lower grade shall not exceed three in number, the board may, at its discretion, open the competition to the next lower grade or below, as they may deem best; and furthermore, if such promotion would probably occasion vacancies requiring other promotions, the board may combine in one the necessary examinations for such promotions. No person who has been examined in any grade for promotion and failed to receive such promotion shall again be admitted to examination within six months, but in the meantime his general average, as ascertained by such examination, may be brought into competition, as provided in Regulation XI.
XV. The examination will be held upon the general subjects fixed for examinations for admission to the lowest grade of the group and upon such other subjects as the general nature of the business of the office and the special nature of the position to be filled may seem to the board of examiners to require. Due weight will be given to the efficiency with which the several candidates shall have previously performed their duties in the office; but no one who shall fail to pass a minimum standard of 75 per cent in the written examination will be certified for appointment.
XVI. If no applicants from within the group shall be found competent, an examination will be held of all who shall make application in accordance with the regulations governing applications for admission to the office, after due public notice by the head of the office. The examination will be conducted in accordance with the provisions for admission to the office, as required by the fourth rule* for the civil service promulgated December 19, 1871, but the nature of the examination will be the same as in any previous examination for the same vacancy.
XVII. The list of names from which the appointment is to be made will be prepared and certified in the manner provided for admission to the lowest grade.
XVIII. Persons employed in any of the offices to which these rules are applicable may be transferred without examination from one office to a grade no higher in another office, with the consent of the heads of the respective offices and the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury.
XIX. Under the provisions of rule 2* of August 5, 1873, and the operation of these regulations, the power of suspension and of recommendation for discharge from the service shall remain with the nominating officer unrestricted. If, however, in his judgment it be deemed advisable, he may direct any person in his department to be cited before the regular examining board, and such board shall examine into any report upon the qualifications, efficiency, and general fitness for the position held, or for any position in the same or a lower grade, of the person so cited to appear; and furthermore, any person in the service engaged in active outdoor duties may be cited to appear before a surgeon of the United States Marine-Hospital Service and be examined by such surgeon as to the physical abilities of such person to perform the duties of the position occupied or of a position of less exposure, if otherwise qualified.
XX. The sessions of the examining boards shall not be open to the public, but the board of revision and appeal may select such number of prominent citizens as may be deemed advisable, who shall have free access to the examining rooms, and who shall take no part in the conduct of the examination, but may, by inspection and inquiry, assure themselves regarding its thoroughness and impartiality, and may publicly certify the results of their inspection.
[Seventh rule for the civil service under the Executive order of April 16, 1872]
The appointment of all persons entering the civil service in accordance with these regulations, excepting persons appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, postmasters, and persons appointed to any position in a foreign country, shall be made for a probationary term of six months, during which the conduct and capacity of such persons shall be tested; and if at the end of said probationary term satisfactory proofs of their fitness shall have been furnished by the board of examiners to be head of the Department in which they shall have been employed during said term, they shall be reappointed.
The appointment of all persons entering the civil service in accordance with these regulations, excepting persons appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, postmasters, and persons appointed to any position in a foreign country, shall be made for a probationary term of six months, during which the conduct and capacity of such persons shall be tested; and if at the end of said probationary term satisfactory proofs of their fitness shall have been furnished by the board of examiners to the head of the Department in which they shall have been employed during said term, they shall be reappointed.
[Fourth regulation for the civil service under the Executive order of April 16, 1872]
The appointment of persons to be employed exclusively in the secret service of the Government, also of persons to be employed as translators, stenographers, or private secretaries,***may be excepted from the operation of the rules.
[Ninth rule for the civil service under the Executive order of April 16, 1872]
Any person who, after long and faithful service in a Department, shall be incapacitated by mental or bodily infirmity for the efficient discharge of the duties of his position may be appointed by the head of the Department, at his discretion, to a position of less responsibility in the same Department.
[Seventh rule for the civil service under the Executive order of August 5, 1873. I]
Applicants for appointment as cashiers of collectors of customs, cashier of assistant treasurers, cashiers of assistant treasurers, cashiers of postmasters, superintendents of money-order divisions in post-offices, and other custodians of large sums of public money for whose fidelity another officer has given official bonds may be appointed at discretion; but this rule shall not apply to any appointment to a position grouped below the grade of assistant teller.
The amendments of the New York custom-house rules seem proper.
R. B. H.