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"In selecting employees one must not only keep in mind the gaps in the background of the staff as a whole but any single appointment may require a specific background not available on the eligible list. * * *
"We are making every effort to build a staff the subject background of which corresponds to the fields of knowledge with which we deal.”
The general unpopularity of examinations coupled with delays in holding and posting them often drive off the best candidates and result in long periods in which positions remain vacant or filled with temporary appointees of less desirable caliber.
As Mr. Munn of Pittsburgh sums it up: "The supply of trained librarians is usually below demand, and the more promising librarians can choose from among several openings. They will not bother with qualifying examinations when so many other openings are available to them.”
Dr. Joeckel reported among the findings of his study of the Chicago Public Library (under civil service) in his book Metropolitan Library in Action (1940): “Delays in the holding and posting of examinations have greatly embarrassed the library in making badly needed appointments and promotions," and that, “at no time in the last 20 years has the library (Chicago Public) been free from the necessity of making temporary appointments.”
The American Library Association has estimated the need for 18,000 additional librarians in the 6 years following the war. Even before the war, the percentage of placement from library schools was already 100 percent, and library-school enrollment declined during the war years.
The Library of Congress alone has approximately 500 authorized positions for professional librarians and over 300 for subprofessional. The Civil Service Commission lists about 600 additional librarian and archivist positions for which it examines, and nearly 200 library and archive aides.
These figures showing national supply and local demand are dramatic. They clearly indicate the precarious dilemma in which the District of Columbia Public Library may well be placed if deprived of its recruiting function and obliged to rely on civil-service lists.
As a matter of fact, these fears have been amply confirmed by off-the-record comments of several departmental librarians in Washington, under civil service, who complained that the examinations do not adequately test for the jobs prescribed ; great delay in filling vacancies; examinations do not test for temperament. One agency, for years, has circumvented recruitment from registers by negotiating transfers from other departments; one officer, after a delay in procuring a replacement, went in person to the Commission and transported papers from one office to another in order to expedite the action. It is significant that not a single one of the agencies contacted recommended the civil-service system of appointment, from an administrative point of view.
The public-library personnel officer is constantly called to suggest candidates for temporary appointments in libraries under United States Civil Service in the failure of the register to provide eligibles. The most recent request was on April 6, 1949, from the National Security Resources Board. On March 30, 1949, Fort Belvoir asked for names of candidates and similar request came from the Navy Department a few months back with the comment, “The Commission has nobody."
But if good people are hard to get under civil service, the same appears to be true in respect to the elimination of inefficient personnel. Mr. Hamill (librarian, Los Angeles Public Library—under civil service) pointed out, “The administration is often put on the defensive in making discharges after completion of the 6 months' probation period. Some employees are bound to take advantage of the security offered by civil service and of the administrative difficulties involved in the dismissal process.”
In collecting evidence on which to base its own stand regarding civil service, Detroit discovered that, "Dismissal of unsatisfactory employees under civil service is frequently a difficult problem. Tenure provisions often guarantee security for those whose work is not up to the proper standard of efficiency, since rather than have publicity of a dismissal case brought to court the librarian is likely to retain the employee, with resultant reduction in efficiency," and cited Prof. Elmer D. Graper in an article entitled "Public Employees and the Merit System” (Annals 181: 88, September 1935): “No greater misconception of the work of civil-service commissions can be found than that which identifies the merit system with mere permanence of tenure. It will always be necessary to provide adequate procedures for the dismissal of unsatisfactory employees."
Unfavorable comments were received from several sources on the tendency of civil service generally to give veterans preference and to establish residence requirements. Both practices were pointed out as detrimental to the service and contradictory to the purpose of the merit system.
In 1936, a group of librarians in Seattle sent out a questionnaire to 43 libraries throughout the country having civil-service requirements. This was 14 years ago in point of time, yet the responses are startlingly relevant to the present situation and comprise a fitting summary for the argument up to this point: “It was felt that the results of the questionnaire indicated that civil service had not in general secured better personnel standards for libraries functioning under it and in many cases was a handicap, for the following reasons : The residential requirements are a definite hindrance to the securing of efficient personnel and the raising of recruitment standards; the examinations are often an inadequate test of ability; the usual provision of limiting the librarian's choice to the three highest candidates, while allowing some selection on the basis of personality, is not always successful; the assurance of tenure tends to foster inertia ; the difficulty of discharging incompetents except for grave misdemeanors may result in the retention of deadwood' and mediocrity" (Wilson Bulletin, April 1936, p. 529).
The reputations of the several librarians and educators quoted herein should give sufficient credence to their outspoken expressions as to the fallacy of transferring public library positions under civil service. However, if further evidence is in order, that afforded by the Hoover's Commission's report, Personnel Management and the Personnel Policy Committee's Program for Strengthening Federal Personnel Management, should prove conclusive. A great many of the weaknesses discovered in civil service are the same as those to which public librarians have been objecting for the last 13 years at least. Consider these, for example, in the Report on Personnel Management:
1. Centralization of personnel transactions in the Civil Service Commission and in the central personnel offices of the departments and agencies has resulted in unjustifiable delays and stand in the way of a satisfactory handling of the Government's personnel problems. (See p. 3.')
2. Machinery for recruiting is not adapted to the variety and numbers of workers required. It has proved to be too slow and cumbersome. As a result, there have been far too many temporary employees in jobs pending the establishment of regular civil-service lists. (See p. 2'.) (It was interesting to note in Programs for Strengthening Federal Personnel Management, the recommendation for permitting expenditures for recruitment trips. The District of Columbia Public Library personnel officer has been visiting library schools for the past 3 years and with very salutary results.)
3. The "rule of three” does not give appointing officers sufficient leeway in selecting personnel. (See p. 11.')
4. The examination score is not always a fully reliable index of an individual's suitability for, and performance on, a specific job. (See p. 16.")
5. The Government too often fails to get the right man for the job or the right job for the man. (See item 3, p. 3.")
6. Not enough time and effort are being spent on recruiting our best young men and women for junior professional, scientific, technical, and administrative posts. (See item 4, p. 3.')
7. The separation of inefficient and unnecessary employees has been surrounded with so much red tape as to inhibit action. (See item 13, p. 5.)
8. There is little desire upon the part of some of the best talent in the country to enter civil service as a career. (See item 14, p. 5.')
9. The Civil Service Commission is not organized to handle personnel problems as quickly as they should be, nor to render effective over-all leadership in the personnel field. (See item 16, p. 6.')
One member of the Commission, James K. Pollock, was unable to give the report unqualified approval and his additional views are appended at the end. As one of the reasons for withholding his entire approval he gives :
“The report minimizes the shortcomings of the present civil-service system." Whereas, "The report recommends that personnel administration be decentralized
1 Personnel Management: A report to the Congress by the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, February 1949.
under 'standards approved by the Civil Service Commission'," Mr. Pollock maintains “that a complete decentralization of personnel management be made to the responsible heads of the Federal agencies * * * free to develop personnel programs suitable for their varying needs."
Mr. Pollock questions the need of a commission form of organization to protect the merit system and suggests “that a statute outlawing political favoritism in the appointment of Federal employees, coupled with enlightened agency management is sufficient to provide adequate protection. * * * If, however, Congress should feel that an organization device is necessary for protective purposes, that interest could best be served,” in Mr. Pollock's opinion, "by a part-time advisory board of distinguished citizens.” And that last phrase should fill any public librarian with righteous pride and some indignation. For wherever there is an American public library, almost invariably there will be a board of trustees, the advice of experts to the contrary.
These reports with their definite recommendations are encouraging, but the fact remains that Congress, by its own admission, will not be able to effect any appreciable improvement for some time to come. And until the public library be given assurance of a change for the better, it infinitely prefers to retain its own merit system, which by comparison, appears already to incorporate the best thought of authorities in the fields of both public library and government administration.
THE COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL ACTION OF THE CONGREGATIONAL
New York, N. Y., March 2, 1951.
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR NEELY: On several occasions during the past 3 years, the Council for Social Action of Congregational Christian Churches as well as the general council of the denomination have gone on record in support of proposals to extend the rights of self-government and suffrage to residents of the District of Columbia.
We wish to reiterate our support of home rule in the District, and to com. mend the action of the subcommittee in holding hearings on S. 656. We urge the Senate to take prompt, affirmative action to extend the democratic privileges and responsibilities to citizens in the Nation's Capital. Sincerely yours,
THOMAS B. KEEHN, Legislative Secretary.
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, D. C., March 14, 1951. ' Hon. MATTHEW M. NEELY, Senate District Committee.
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR NEELY: In accordance with your request to Mr. Harry S. Wender, chairman of the District of Columbia Recreation Board, there is attached a report of the Recreation Board outlining its objection to the Kefauver-Taft bill on home rule, S. 656, which removes the direct responsibility for administering the public recreation program. You will note that the Recreation Board has concerned itself with only the provisions in the bill which pertain to the Recreation Board.
The attached report prepared by the Superintendent of Recreation was presented to the Board at its March 13 meeting. Action was taken to approve the report and recommendation and to forward this action to the Senate District Committee.
Your particular attention is called to page 8 of the report which contains the language suggested by the Board to be substituted for the present section 904, paragraphs (a) and (b) in the bill, S. 656.
Mention should also be made of previous action taken by the Recreation Board, "that the Recreation Board is opposed to any bill that will abolish the District of Columbia Recreation Board.”
We appreciate the opportunity to submit as part of the record the Recreation Board's reactions to S. 656 as it concerns the administration of public recreation in the District of Columbia. Sincerely yours,
MILO F. CHRISTIANSEN, Superintendent of Recreation.
ACTION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RECREATION BOARD RELATING TO S. 656 (Prepared by Milo F. Christiansen, Superintendent of Recreation, March 9, 1951)
During the recent hearings on the home-rule bill, S. 656, Mr. Harry S. Wender, Chairman of the Board, testified personally on behalf of local suffrage. He also reported that our Board had taken specific action on at least two occasions in which they directly opposed the loss of the Board's authority as originally proposed in the Auchincloss bill, H. R. 4902 (1947), and, more recently, the Hays bill, H. R. 1658 (January 17, 1951).
Senator Neely requested that the Board submit a report which outlined the Board's reactions to the Kefauver-Taft bill, S. 656 (January 23, 1951) and language for an amendment to the bill which would meet the Board's objections. Mr. Gerhard C. Van Arkel, committee counsel, informed the Superintendent of Recreation that the Senate record on the hearings would be held open for about a week, which permits our Board to submit this report.
While this latest bill, S. 656, encompasses major issues relating to home rule, an elected School Board, creation of a City Council and District Manager, the main point of issue in this bill with which we are concerned is the proposal to remove the full responsibility for administering public recreation by placing this authority in the Director of Recreation who is directly responsible to the District Manager.
PROVISIONS OF S. 656 CREATING A DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION
• S. 656, section 904 (a) transfers all functions of the Board to the Director of a Department of Recreation. This section infers that the Board will continue in an advisory capacity and specifies that a member of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission shall be a member (replacing the present representative of the District of Columbia Board of Commissioners) and the representative of the Board of Education shall be designated by the President of the Board of Education. There is no assurance that there has to be a Board, even though of an advisory nature, as it can be abolished at any time by the District Council.
Section (b) refers to "all expenses incident to the maintenance and improvement of grounds, buildings, and other facilities in the District under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service shall be paid out of appropriations made by the Congress to such Service. The expenses (after June 30, 1953), as determined by the Director of the National Park Service, incident to the maintenance and improvement of such grounds, buildings, and other facilities as are used by the Director of the Department of Recreation for the purpose of conducting a program of public recreation for the benefit of the residents of the District of Columbia under agreements pursuant to the Act of April 29, 1942, creating the District Recreation Board, shall to the extent provided in such agreements be borne by the government of the District of Columbia.” The provision contained in section 904 (b) is the same procedure as is now followed by the Board.
DIRECTOR OF RECREATION MADE EX OFFICIO MEMBER OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
(SEC. 1405 (A)) The proposal to make the Director of Recreation an ex officio member of the Planning Commission appears to be appropriate. Problems have developed in recent years which conceivably would have been averted if the Commission had had access to technical and professional advice from officials charged with the responsibility of administering and operating public recreation and education. It would also appear desirable to include the Superintendent of Education as a member of the Planning Commission because of the large number of school properties which are an integral part of the recreation plan created by the National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the need to coordinate all present and future planning with other community problems.
A comprehensive statement was prepared and presented by the Recreation Board in analyzing the Auchincloss bill in relation to abolishing the District of Columbia Recreation Board's authority. The full text of the Board's opposition to the proposal was recorded during hearings on the bill, but various excerpts from the 1947 report are repeated to illustrate the basic need for retention of the authority and responsibility new vested in the Board by Public Law 534, April 29, 1942, Seventy-seventh Congress.
The Board respectfully but emphatically disapproves placing administration of public recreation under the Director of Recreation, who may or may not appoint an advisory board.
The remainder of this report provides more detailed comment and data regarding the subject of public recreation administration.
It should also be mentioned that a brief survey was made in 1947 of types of city government in the 22 largest cities, the method for administering public recreation, and what municipal services were conducted by other administrative bodies. A general statement was included on the growth of the park and recreation movement in relation to city government administration.
The Recreation Board fully appreciates that its position in opposing loss of its authority seems inconsistent with city-manager government, but it is convinced that an administrative board administering public recreation is the best for the citizens of the District of Columbia.
CONDITIONS NECESSITATING NEED TO CREATE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RECREATION BOARD
IN 1942 On April 29, 1942, Public Law 534 was enacted, the initial step in unifying widey scattered facilities and multiple recreation administration in the District of Columbia.
Natural confusion existed by virtue of three different public agencies rendering services and facilities. In some cases, several different property jurisdictions were involved. While the Community Center Department under the Board of Education, the Playground Department under the District Commissioners, and the Recreation Section of the Office of the National Capital Parks made every effort to serve the public, too many gaps and deficiencies existed to permit a total perspective of needs and provisions for meeting the rapid population growth that had occurred in Washington. Varying procedures, standards, and rules and regulations added to the complexity of the situation.
The District of Columbia Recreation system plan created by the National Capital Park and Planning Commission could not be administered under such conditions. By support from various citizens, civic, parent-teacher, business associations, the press, and other community forces, almost unanimous approval was reveloped to create a Recreation Board which would attack a maladjusted and undernourished public recreation service.
The Federal Government's preparation and entry into war brought thousands of persons to Washington for employment. This condition accentuated the fact that the city was unprepared to provide even for its normal population. The withdrawal of many public recreation facilities necessitated by the Government's need for ground space for building construction, antiaircraft and sabotage installations, and parking space likewise focused attention on the need for a virile agency to discharge the community responsibility for providing recreation. Approximately one-third of the downtown public recreation facilities had been completely removed. Shorty after creation of the Recreation Board, a concentrated and vigorous effort was made to protect existing facilities and project a program which would provide additional facilities. Restoration of half of the polo field once set aside for parking space assures that Anacostia C recreation grounds and the Lincoln playground would be used by the United States Navy only temporarily until cessation of war activities, and prevention of further encroachments at various locations were tangible evidences that recreation was accepted as a public service essential in both war and peacetime.