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In accordance with the naval appropriation act of March 3, 1909, commissary stores are maintained at aïl principal navy yards.
This act limits the privilege of purchasing from these stores to officers and enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps and to such civilian employees as are serving at foreign stations—a recent act extending it to officers and enlisted men of the Army.
Articles purchased for commissary stores are paid for from the appropriation “ Provisions, Navy"; reimbursement being made from the proceeds of the sales. As it is, of course, impossible to conduct the stores without incurring some expenses for material, such as paper, twine, office fixtures etc., these items are paid for out of Provisions, Navy"; and the appropriation is reimbursed by the small profit' which naturally accrues, owing to the fact that it is usually impossible to sell exactly at cost without including fractional parts of a cent in the selling price.
During the past year all officers whose only duty was in charge of commissary stores have been detached, this work being now done by other officers as additional duty. The cost to the Government of running these stores is therefore reduced to not more than the pay of the men (detailed as salesmen, etc.).
A special board-consisting of Captain B. C. Bryan, Paymaster D. V. Chadwick and Naval Constructor W. B. Ferguson—has accomplished much toward scientific cost accounting, as was stated in the following endorsement, dated June 29, 1915, by which the final report was presented for departmental approval:
The report on accounting is, in the opinion of the Paymaster General, a record of constructive work of the first importance, having been prosecuted with thoroughness, sureness of grasp and fidelity to the best and broadest interests of the Navy.
The recommendations, some of which have already, by authority of the department, been put into effect, are singularly acute in pointing the way to simpler, more systematic and sounder methods in yard cost accounting as well as in some of the related aspects of
the general accounting and financial system of the Navy The method recommended by the board for distributing overhead expense to the cost of work is in accordance with accepted cost-keeping practice and appears to be particularly appropriate to navyyard conditions. In its commercial development this method aims to give to executives information regarding the expense due to idle equipment and information regarding the out-of-pocket costs of production and total costs.
Many of the steps necessary to carry out the board's plans have been completed. The yards have been appraised, their utilities have been scheduled and there has been established a simple and logical classification of expense accounts which will show for the first time in one place the total maintenance charges. The work so far done is to an extent preliminary, but the aim is to furnish information for proper interpretation of costs.
One of the distinctive features of the new system will be the separation of cost of work from appropriations. This removes many obstacles to proper cost-keeping; but not all, as was thus pointed out by the Conference on Accounting in June, 1914:
It will not be possible to put into effect an entirely suitable and. satisfactory system until the methods and classifications used in submitting estimates to Congress and the wording of appropriation
bills are correspondingly modified and revised so that all estimat-
throughout. In addition to interfering with the proper distribution of costs, the present complicated method of making appropriations entails a great volume of unnecessary paper work and a mass of bookkeeping detail, the disadvantages of which are felt throughout the naval establishment.
A determined effort has been made to so distribute commissioned pay officers as to divide up the work in accordance with rank and experience, giving to each all that he might in reason be expected to do without overloading anybody. No detail has been made unless it seemed to be absolutely necessary, all officers being left undisturbed during their normal tours of duty whenever possible.
So far as has been practicable, the matter of details has been reduced to pure routine; the idea being that an officer should be relieved promptly at the expiration of three years afloat and that his relief should automatically be the officer of his own rank longest on shore. For pay directors and those pay inspectors who have made the cruise as fleet paymaster, three years at one shore station is ordinarily considered a full tour of duty.
Such details as have been necessary were made with a view to furnishing only officers of the grade of paymaster for duty on board capital ships, leaving assignments to smaller vessels to officers junior in rank.
While exceptional circumstances in a few individual cases necessitate a departure from any established rule, it is intended that any officer can ordinarily find out for himself in advance when he is liable to change station and about where he will go by simply referring to the Navy Register.
Whenever practicable, reference is made to official reports of fitness to learn individual preferences; and these, as well as such direct applications as have been filed, are given due consideration in deciding upon details. With so small a personnel (and so many existing vacancies), however, and such a constant demand for their services, most of the orders issued during the year have necessarily been more or less in the nature of emergency orders; and the personal wishes of interested officers could consequently be given but scant consideration.
In such changes as were necessary, consolidations have been effected wherever practicable-special effort being made to reduce the number of officers on duty in Washington. This reduction amounted within the year to more than 30 per cent; and, exclusive of the statutory positions of Chief and Assistant, the number of officers in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts has meanwhile been reduced exactly 50 per cent.
The Naval Pay Officers' School, originally established in 1905, reopened in December, 1914; and up to the present time has completed two sessions, making five in all.
During the period which elapsed between the abolition of the school and its reestablishment, newly appointed assistant paymasters were given such instruction as was possible in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts and in the oflice of the Auditor for the Navy Department.
As to the comparative merits of the two methods of professional instruction (in so far as comes within the scope of his office), the Auditor recently wrote as follows: It was formerly the practice
that the young officers were in many cases sent to this office for some instruction in the practical duties of accounting.
This system, while of benefit to those who earnestly desired instruction, was not satisfactory as a whole. The young men in many instances failed to take seriously the effort to benefit them and were not amenable to discipline, so much so in some cases that the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts was requested to recall the students.
I can unhesitatingly say that the present system is by far the most complete, and the graduates of the school will have more practical knowledge of their duties than any of their predecessors; and this not on account of their personality, but because of the admirable system
so carefully adhered to. Prior to the act of March 3, 1915, paymasters' clerks in the Navy were appointed upon the nomination of the pay officers with whom they were to serve. Upon the detachment of such officers, the clerks' appointments were revoked and they were then without employment or pay until again nominated. This arrangement, while advantageous to the pay officer in that it permitted him to make his own selection, was deemed scarcely fair to the clerks. The act referred to established the permanent grades of acting pay clerk, pay clerk and chief pay clerk.
Examination of paymasters' clerks entitled to permanent appointments was held in June, 1915. When the final result is known there will probably be a number of vacancies, because some failed to qualify and a few did not care to take the examination.
The situation with respect to the clerical force in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts is such as to cause grave concern.
During the past 18 months more than 30 per cent has either resigned or been transferred-seeking elsewhere the opportunity for advancement which is plainly not afforded here.
With a more reasonable scale of salaries, it will be possible to retain employees who have become most valuable through long experience; and with an efficient force in normal times—well trained, zealous, and competent-the present organization could be readily expanded in case of emergency.
Prices of coal and fuel oil for the fiscal year 1916 show considerable reductions as compared with prices for 1915. Cargo coal at Hampton Roads is from 20 to 25 cents less per ton. Practically all of the oil for east-coast stations during the coming fiscal year is to be shipped from Port Arthur, Texas; the contract price being $.64 per barrel as against $.78 for 1915.
Owing to the scarcity of merchant steamers and the consequent high foreign rates, it was found advisable to ship coal to the Philippines by naval colliers. The Proteus sailed from Hampton Roads December 27, 1914, and the Nereus January 15, 1915; a total of about 21,000 tons of coal being thus delivered at Cavite and Olongapo. The net cost to the Navy of shipment by these colliers of coal (and other freight) was about $57,000 less than it would have been by merchant steamers.
It has also been found that coal could be carried to west-coast stations by naval colliers at a cost much less than in merchant bottoms at the then high freight rates. The most recent example of this was afforded by the Mars, the over-all expense of which was
$4.05 (estimated) per ton as against $5.25 per ton, the lowest bid received (just at the close of the fiscal year) for transportation by merchant vessels; the figures for the Mars not taking into account considerable miscellaneous freight which otherwise would have had to be forwarded by commercial carriers.
Frequent charterings of merchant vessels have been necessary during the past year for transporting coal to near-by naval storage points.
The quantity of coal commercially dumped at the principal tidewater points on the Atlantic range and the supply of fuel oil obtainable from commercial sources are believed to be sufficient to meet all requirements. But this fuel has to be delivered to the ships as well as to supply depots on shore; and, to accomplish this, transportation must be provided.
The subject of improving storage and handling facilities at certain of the coaling depots has already been presented; and it is understood that this, together with the question of needed increase in transportation, is under consideration by the General Board.
Storage ashore in general is at present barely sufficient to meet the normal demands of the fleet.
It has been impossible heretofore to determine upon a definite plan for the development of storage facilities, the space at the various navy yards being added to from time to time in a more or less haphazard way by the acquisition of an occasional new building or by taking over old buildings as they could be given up by the manufacturing divisions after their own transfer to new shops.
The advisability of consolidating and centralizing stores need scarcely be pointed out.
For each additional ship there should be a corresponding increase in the storage on shore; and of course the same is true of what might be called storage afloat-supply ships and colliers.
The whole problem of fleet supply has been carefully studied with a view to formulating comprehensive plans for use in time of stress.
As to the available quantities of general supplies over and above what are ordinarily needed by the fleet, the figures show that, while during the past four years the ship tonnage fit for active service has increased about 30 per cent, the value of stock increased practically not at all.
As an example of financial economy, this makes an excellent showing; but it is a condition which, as pointed out in a separate communication, should not be permitted to longer continue; for it is a matter of history that the issue of nearly every great conflict has in the last analysis depended largely upon the question of supply.
There should be no real difference between peace times and war times-between peace footing and war footing-with respect to ship supply.
With the regular Navy, both afloat and ashore, habitually doing its utmost to keep the active fleet at all times symmetrically supplied, the shift over from peace to war conditions should not, in fact, produce the confusion that invariably accompanies radical changes in method; for under such circumstances there need take place merely an expansion incident to the orderly absorption of newly acquired units into an already existent and satisfactorily working system.
REPORT OF THE SURGEON GENERAL.
DEPARTMENT OF THE Navy,
Washington, D. C., September 18, 1915.
The following report of the activities of the bureau is submitted:
During the past year there has been an increase in the admission and death rates over the preceding year. The latter rate continues, however, very low, only 4.18 per 1,000, and the admission rate is lower than for the 10-year period from 1901 to 1910, inclusive. Considering that these statistics include the time of the Vera Cruz campaign, during which a large proportion of the personnel was occupied in tropical duty for more than seven months, I believe the above result may be pointed out as fully satisfactory and up to the high standard of the past several years.
Among the major classified groups of disease that show an increase in total damage are the following:
Diseases of the digestive system.
Among the more important of the special diseases that show an increase are the following:
A decrease is noted in diseases of the circulatory system, eye and adnexa, infective type (venereal), motor system, and the following special diseases:
1 Allstatistics of health cover the calendar year 1914.