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REPORT

To the Governor :

The undersigned, the Civil Service Commissioners, have the honor to submit the eleventh annual report of the Commission.

The first day of January, 1894, closes the first decade of the operation of the Civil Service Law in the State of New York. We may be pardoned, therefore, if we call attention briefly to some of the facts concerning the enforcement of the law during this period, with the object in view of explaining if possible the exact position of affairs at the beginning of the year 1893, when the present Board of Commissioners was constituted, and as explanatory of some of the violations which then existed.

The law was passed during the legislative session of 1883. January 1, 1884, was fixed as the time when it should go into effect under rules to be adopted by the first Commission and approved by the Governor. The rules adopted were very elaborate, so elaborate and complex, in fact, that they have never been fully followed. They involved among other things so complex a scheme of classification and examination that it has never been found practicable by any Commission to carry it out in its entirety. Moreover, the law and rules made under it provided for the immediate subjection to them of every branch of the civil service of the State. And in this connection, it is, perhaps, worthy of remark, that this course was in sharp contrast to that of the Federal Commission which sought the attainment of the same object by stages; that is, by putting the separate branches of the public service under the operation of the law, not at once, but as rapidly as a proper classification was secured and the Commission had accomplished those things which it had previdusly attempted.

The result of this was that the State law was not fully enforced by the first Commission, only eighteen persons having been appointed during the first year from the eligible lists resulting from competitive examinations. There were, in 1885, twenty-two appointments from the eligible lists; in 1886, there were fifty-seven; in 1887, there were fifty-eight; in 1888, there were seventy-nine; in 1889, there were forty-seven ; in 1890, there were sixty-two; in 1891, there were seventy-one ; in 1892, there were 101, and in 1893, during the administration of the present Commission, there have been 129; from which it appears that there has, in the main, been a steady growth in the number of appointments from the eligible lists, and that, with one exception, each succeeding Commission has enlarged the number of appointments made from the eligible lists.

It may be questioned whether it was possible for the first Commission to bring all places in the civil service under the sweeping terms of the rules recommended by them, and approved by the Governor. The law was new and untried and met with little favor from many heads of departments, and was either misunderstood or not comprehended by them. In fact, a fair comprehension of the law and the duties of appointing powers in reference to it, seems to have been very slowly approached ; and it has been a matter of considerable surprise to the present Commission to find that a number of the officials of this State whose attention has been called to violations of the Civil Service Law existing in their offices, have seemed to have had no previous knowledge of such violations. It has been no small part of our duty the past year to make officials better acquainted with the law as applied to appointments in their offices and the benefits to be derived therefrom. It is our belief that the inability of the first Commission to enforce the full measure of the rules accounts very largely for the violations in later years. This reference to a wholesale classification by the first Commission applies at the present time only as it has left its mark on each successive Commission and bequeathed a list of violations with which each Commission has successively struggled.

If we add to the difficulties already mentioned, the further fact that nowhere does the law provide for its enforcement, and that with all the elaboration of detail contained in it, the commissioners have no authority to prevent an illegal appointment, it becomes apparent at once that a Commission ought not to be held responsible if violations creep in which it is powerless to prevent. We have had the honor heretofore to call your attention to this subject and we believe that your recommendation to the present Legislature will bring about a judicious amendment which shall prohibit absolutely the payment by the Comptroller of the salary of any employe of the State coming under Civil Service rules, unless such employe shall have been duly certified by this Commission as eligible for appointment to the position which he holds.

We have noticed that in the past there have been criticisms upon the changes made by the several Commissions from the competitive to the non-competitive class. It may be worth while to briefly refer to the attitude of former Commissions with reference to such transfers. One of the former Commissions, laboring doubtless under the burden of sweeping rules, which made radical changes in the Civil Service of the State, held that all requests made by heads of departments for transfers from the competitive to non-competitive schedules, should receive favorable action, as will appear by a letter of the Commission dated January 15, 1886, from which the following is quoted :

“The practice of the Commission is to consider favorably applications by State officers and heads of departments in regard to the management of their offices, and the mode of selecting employes, whether by competitive or non-competitive examinations.”

The history of the first four years of the Commission shows constant transfers from the competitive schedule to the exempt, while the instances were very rare where additions were made to the competitive schedule. During these four years, only 155 appointments were made from the competitive schedule in our State departments.

The idea set forth in the above quotation, seems to have been followed very generally, until in subsequent years the Commission, in compliance with the terms of the law, began to require proof that there were good reasons for such changes, independent of the mere wish of the appointing power; and it has been a rule adopted by the present Commission that proofs shall be made to the satisfaction of the Commission of the existence of such a confidential relation or financial trust between the head of the department and the employe as shall warrant the transfer of any position from the competitive to the non-competitive class. A reference to appendix B will show the number of appointments in the competitive and non-competitive schedules since the Civil Service Law went into operation. It also shows the number of appointments made each year from the eligible lists.

We now come to the history of the transactions of the present board, having briefly shown some of the difficulties which confronted us.

E. Prentiss Bailey and Willard D. McKinstry were appointed commissioners on the 22d of November, 1992; De Forest Van Vleet was appointed on the sixteenth of the following February. On February twenty-seventh the new board met. Mr. Bailey was elected president and Thomas Carmody appointed chief examiner in place of John B. Riley. The acts of the present Commission may, therefore, properly be said to date from that time.

One of the first acts of the present Commission was to invite a conference with leading members of the New York

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