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for years, but if they have stopped it it is within the last few months, and that is appointing people as special agents and assigning them to any kind of classified work.
Mr. Reed. About how many of those special agents?
Mr. Brown. I shall have to call on the census people to give you that.
Mr. Hirsch. There are none at present. About a year and a half ago there were some of our special agents detailed to the Department of Commerce. As soon as the Civil Service Commission found out about it they took the matter up with the Secretary of Commerce, and he agreed there would be no more special agents appointed for clerical work in the District of Columbia, and since that time he has rigidly enforced that.
Mr. Reed. I want to know the total number. How many will be required?
Mr. Gosnell. I can't say exactly. They vary in number at different times. We use special agents on various types of work in the field. We appoint clerks to transcribe records of marriage and divorce. We appoint city officials to make up reports on city finance, where we find someone who is competent to do the work. In that way we save about 50 per cent of the ordinary cost of doing the work.
We also appoint State officials to prepare State financial reports, which likewise saves half the cost of the work.
We use ministers and others who have to do with churches to collect statistics of the religious bodies.
Mr. Reed. That is very interesting. What I wanted to get at was approximately how many men would be required. I know you can not give it exactly.
Mr. Gosnell. Would you mind if I gave it to you in detail somewhat?
Doctor Hill. You are interested only in the census?
Mr. Reed. Yes.
Mr. Gosnell. We use agents more during the decennial census period, employing about 2,000 special agents.
The Chairman. As I understand it, the Census Bureau is authorized to make an arrangement with the State or with the municipality to take a census of the State or municipality.
Mr. Gosnell. We have such a law now.
The Chairman. You have that authority?
Mr. Gosnell. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. When you make that agreement with the State or with the municipality to take the census, are the employees who do the work there under this classification of the Bureau of the Census, or are they partly State employees and partly agents of the Bureau of the Census?
Mr. Gosnell. They are partly State employees and partly agents of the Bureau of the Census.
The Chairman. How would you apply civil service examinations under that condition without delaying the matter and all that?
Mr. Gosnell. If I may make a statement regarding special agents, we employ the special agent for a period of 5 or 6 days, to 10 or 15 on the State and city financial work. Ordinarily we send a
person from Washington to prepare those figures. He is paid a regular salary which averages about $2,100 a year and a per diem in lieu of subsistence and traveling expenses.
The director is trying now, and has met with considerable success, to get State and city officials to prepare those reports on a basis as special agents, at approximately $5 a day.
The Chairman. I do not want to interrupt you, but I promised Mr. Brown the opportunity to speak first. He has another engagement. This is no discourtesy to any of you gentlemen, though.
Mr. Brown. There is no interference as far as temporary employment of that kind is concerned. The civil service rule would not interfere at all. Any short time of 30 days or 60 days we will give the census blanket authority to employ, and the rules are flexible enough to cover a contingency of that kind.
The Chairman. Is that a rule of the department or is it a law?
Mr. Brown. That is a rule.
The Chairman. It is a regulation.
Mr. Brown. Promulgated by the President, and has the authority of law. As I say, we will give them blanket authority to employ for a 30-day period, and give them an extension of 30-days if the job is not completed.
I want to avoid leaving this door open for the abuse which has taken place in the past. I can cite you 12 cases within the last year or year and a half of people whom the Census was carrying as special agents, and they are doing stenographic and other classified work in the department. I can cite you two cases of special agent punching card machines in the Census Bureau.
The fundamental act defines a special agent as a person appointed for temporary service, for the collection of statistics, and there is no excuse and never has been for the Census Bureau appointing such persons and using them on classified work, as they have done for years.
We have no inspection service. We can never catch those cases except by accident, and there are, I think, 12 or 15 cases in the last year that we have just stumbled on. How many men there may have been I have no means of knowing. They tell me they have stopped it.
As long as that door is open these men may not do it, but their successors may, and the commission believes the people should be under civil service. We are prepared to hold examinations and have men when the census wants them.
The Chairman. You say a special agent is operating a card index machine. Why should he not?
Mr. Brown. Because that is classified work, regular classified work.
The Chairman. If they were short of help down there a special agent who must examine these card indices, when they come out if he takes it upon himself to run the machine and get his own card indices, why have two men to do one man's work.
Mr. Brown. A special agent is not supposed to examine those cards. His job is to collect statistics in the field under the fundamental law, the law of 1902.
The Chairman. Then from your point of view no special agent ought to examine these cards when they come in his possession.
Mr. Bhown. Men under civil service should first do that. I have understood the Census Bureau is supposed to be a place where political or personal pressure is used to get a man a job.
The Chairman. That is new to me. I am glad to know that.
Mr. Truesdell. I would like Mr. Brown to explain what he means by "abuse?."
Mr. Brown. I mean by transfer of special agents to stenographic work and carrying them at that job. That is an abuse.
Mr. Truesdell. The Civil Service Commission admitted the census was right in appointing those agents, in using them for any kind of work. You took it up with Senator Couzens.
Mr. Brown. We never agreed.
Mr. Gosnell. You just protested the thing and we did have the right.
Mr. Brown. Our files show we protested, and you never had the right to employ them except for the collection of statistics in the field.
Mr. Gosnell. We have not done anything of that kind for the last year and a half. We wanted to obey what we thought the Civil Service Commission thought were the rules.
Mr. Chairman. Each gentleman will be given full opportunity to present his case before the committee. It is not the desire of the committee to cut anybody off. If we can proceed in an orderly manner as possible, we will do so.
Mr. Brown. I do not know that there is much more I should say. I think this is a condition that should be remedied. There is no reason in our judgment why these people should not be employed under civil service. If it is for a brief period of time, we will give them blanket authority to employ them. They do not need to do anything except employ the men and report it to us.
The Chairman. How much of a delay do you think there would be if this should become an act?
Mr. Brown. Not a minute. We have ample time and will have examinations right away and have lists waiting when it is a law.
Mr. Rankin. Do you contend civil service is free from politics?
Mr. Brown. It is as far as I know.
Mr. Rankin. Do you know all that is going on in the civil service down there?
Mr. Brown. No, sir.
Mr. Rankin. As a matter of fact, don't you know that men get on the list in these examinations through political pressure?
Mr. Brown. I think not.
Mr. Rankin. You think not?
Mr. Brown. No, sir; I am quite certain, in fact.
Mr. Rankin. Your criticism is leveled at the Bureau of the Census, and I must say that my experience also convinces me it applies to the civil service, and I am going to take the records and go back and show you. Not only that, but I want to say to you that the civil service now, in my humble opinion, as far as the section of the country that I represent is concerned, is receiving more criticism and more just criticism than any other department in the Government, except the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Brown. I suppose you refer to the postmaster position.
Mr. Rankin. That is one thing.
Mr. Brown. As long as the postmasters of first, second, and third class remain under presidential appointment, subject to confirmation by the Senate, you can not take politics out.
Mr. Rankin. Can you not take it out of civil service?
Mr. Brown. We have it out. We certify three names.
Mr. Rankin. A man came to my office some time ago who was an applicant for a post office, and said through a deal that another man had been recommended, and he had seen the tentative report of the civil service commission, and this other man headed the list. He went to see a certain United States Senator, and that Senator went to see some other parties, and the first thing I knew the list had been shifted and this man who came out ahead on the list was not appointed.
Mr. Brown. Any man has an appeal; has a right to have his papers rerated. We have a board of appeals for that purpose. I have seen many, many cases of postmasters where an appeal of that kind was made, and there was no change whatever. I have seen some cases where a 'careful review did change the order.
Mr. Chairman. Does the candidate for postmaster have a right to appeal?
Mr. Brown. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. Excepting by presidential order, how do the postmasters come under civil service?
Mr. Brown. They are not under civil service.
The Chairman. That right of appeal applies to the candidates for post-office positions?
Mr. Brown. Yes; we offer them the same right.
The Chairman. Do you have any appeals?
Mr. Brown. Yes; a great many. We have a regular board of appeals to consider those appeals, as I say. If I were Postmaster General I would do as he does. I would get my list of three, and submit them to the Congressman and Senator and find out who was going to be approved. There is no sense of sending a name to the President who is not going to be approved; if the Senate would give up its right of confirmation then the Postmaster General could fix it up.
Mr. Rankin. The Senators from my State do not have anything do with appointments but vote on confirmation. They were not appointed by a Senator. They were being juggled, and the testimony I had before me shows that the Civil Service Commission went back and changed those ratings.
Mr. Brown. We do that occasionally. We have an appeals board.
Mr. Rankin. And changed those ratings because of political pressure.
Mr. Brown. No; I think you are mistaken. I have never known of an occasion where a record was changed for political preference.
Mr. Rankin. I have been very strong for civil service, but I am not willing to extend its prerogatives until it shows its own house is in order, and it convinces me that it gives a fair and impartial examination to the applicants who come under it.
Mr. Brown. The examiners who do the examining have not any idea whether the man is a Democrat or Republican, what his religion is, or anything about it.
They are rated on the basis of the material before them.
Mr. Lozier. When an eligible list is made, as a result of an examination, by the civil service under the Executive order, and it is ascertained that certain individuals obtain a place on that eligible list, in instances where the political organization of the city or the county is behind the candidate who does not obtain a place on the eligible list, isn't it a common practice for a special representative of the Civil Service Commission to go into that community and dig around and find some ground upon which he can disqualify one of those parties on the eligible list?
Mr. Brown. Absolutely not.
Mr. Lozier. And in that way eliminate that party that will enable the favorite individual to move up.
Mr. Brown. That never has been in my experience. We investigate practically all the first-class offices. When there is a first-class office to be filled we send a special investigator to investigate the condition. We do that for a great many second-class offices.
Mr. Lozier. Does not that special investigator go into that community and go to the powers that be, the ones behind tins man?
Mr. Brown. No.
Mr. Lozier. That he has failed to make a place on the eligible list, and do they not by every device known to politics disqualify someone on the eligible list so as to move up the gentleman who has the indorsement of the Congressman or Senator or the chairman or a national committeeman in that particular State? Is not that done all over the United States?
Mr. Brown. I will say it is not being done. We send a man down who has no interest whatever. His job is to get the facts. He goes to everybody in the community that he has any reason to think can give him information, banker, lawyer, everybody, the influential men, the men who would be likely to know. I never have seen a post-office report where there was one iota of political stuff in it.
Mr. Lozier. The inspector would not put in his report affirmatively showing the facts that influence him. Of course he would not.
Mr. Brown. He does put in the facts that influence him. That is what he is there for, and that is what he does.
Mr. Lozier. I am afraid you don't know what goes on in the field.
Mr. Brown. They only rate the man properly. They do not know the men who are interested in the candidate.
Mr. Lozier. Probably you do not know how it operates.
Mr. Brown. That is the way it operates.
Mr. Lozier. The inspectors go in the territory, it is notorious, where the organization is in favor of some individual who has not made the required grade, is not on the eligible list—it exists in Missouri and all over the United States—I do not claim the members of the Civil Service Commission have knowledge of it, but it is ridiculous to assert for one moment that appointments under the civil service system or the Executive order are not influenced, and the ratings made and the eligibile list prepared largely as a result of political influence.