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Mr. JOHNSON. And you do not transmit the letter to the Public Printer. Now, why do you not transmit the letter containing the request to the Public Printer and have nothing further to do with it, simply letting him, if he sees fit, answer the letter by saying, “ Your letter addressed to the Navy Department has been turned over to me for attention," or whatever he might see fit to say?
Mr. Curtis. This would require the superintendent of documents to carry on correspondence with the person requesting the publication, keep files of the correspondence, and address the mailing frank. I understand that the superintendent of documents desires to avoid having any files of correspondence in connection with these millions of requests that come in. Another objection is that a great many requests come in from Senators and Congressmen, and there might be a delay of several days in receiving answers to their letters, and if they did not get prompt answers they might object to it. · Mr. JOHNSON. Representatives and Senators are not that easily offended, I hope.
Mr. Curtis. I do not mean that they are so easily offended, but we like to treat them with exceptional courtesy.
Mr. GILLETT. But I do not see, Mr. Chairman, how the plan you suggest would save anything, because the Public Printer would have to answer the letters.
Mr. JOHNSON. Yes, but he would answer it with a stamp. He would answer it by saying, “ This letter is answered by me because I am required under the law to send out all documents.?
Mr. GILLETT. As I understand it, that is all they do now.
Mr. CURTIS. These letters do not have to go to the Secretary to be signed. We use a printed slip which is inclosed with the letter, and we mail the letter back. The record coming back to us from the Printing Office is important as showing that the publication has been sent out. That is required because we have to report annually to Congress how we distribute these public documents.
Mr. JOHNSON. Do you think the law will prove satisfactory?
Mr. Curtis. Undoubtedly it will. It will perhaps cause a little delay in receiving the publications.
Mr. GILLETT. Do all the departments do that in the same way? Has there been any correspondence among the several departments on this subject ?
Mr. CURTis. I know that the Department of Commerce and Labor does it in the same way, and I think it very likely that some of the others do so.
Mr. GILLETT. Is there any arrangement among the departments as to what is the best way of doing it?
Mr. Curtis. No, sir. We investigated the method that was adopted by the Department of Commerce and Labor, and we adopted practically the plan they have.
Mr. Johnson. Some of the representatives of the departments testified that they did not have anything to do with the sending out of the documents except to send the letter over to the Public Printer, and I think that the Economy Commission, or somebody else, ought probably to go around and have them to adopt a uniform method of handling the matter.
Your item is on page 168 of the bill. The first thing you ask for is an appointment clerk at $2,000, and a chief of division of correspondence at $2,000. I presume it is the purpose to promote two class 4 clerks to these positions. Mr. CURTIs, I am personally very much interested in that position first mentioned, because I held that position for 10 years, but I did not get the pay the position paid before in the department. The appointment clerk is estimated for in lieu of a clerk of class 4, in order to make the pay more commensurate with the duties required. As a matter of fact, the Navy Department had an appointment clerk at $2,250 per annum from 1890 to 1897. Upon the promotion of the person holding the position to the chief clerkship of the department the rating was abolished and the work was carried on mainly by a clerk under him. Since that time, however, the work has increased to such an extent that a section comprising a number of clerks has been established to carry on the business. The Navy Department needs more high-grade positions not only for the positions themselves, but to enable the department to hold its $1,000 and $1,200 classes of clerks who show an adaptability for promotion. We have lost a great many clerks. The chief clerk in the Department of Agriculture and the chief clerk in the Department of Justice left the Navy Department because they did not see any prospects of promotion, and you can see many of the most competent men in the Government service have been transferred from the Navy Department. Mr. BURLESON. There is a law that prohibits that now. Mr. CURTIs. The law forbids it for the first three years. That law was brought about by the Navy Department, and it has helped us yery materially. It has aided us in keeping the men for three years. They may work up to the $1,200 positions, but they do not like to start in again at $900 or $1,000. The reason for asking for some of these increases is not so much for the positions alone, but it is also to enable us to hold people in the lower grades who may prove worthy of promotion. Mr. Joh NSON. You are interested in the promotion of these two clerks, first, because you are interested in the clerks themselves. and second, because that will enable you to promote people under them; is that it? Mr. CURTIs. Yes, sir; but if you allow the $200 increase for the appointment clerk that means that the $1,800 clerk drops out. It does not mean any promotion all along the line, but it means the promotion of two $1,800 clerks. Mr. Johnson. You do not increase any $1,600 clerk to $1,800? Mr. CURTIs. No, sir; the $1,800 clerks go out, and we substitute two $2,000 clerks in the place-of the $1,800 clerks. Mr. Johnson. Don't you think it would create more general satisfaction in your office and give more chance for promotion if you should promote the $1,800 men and let somebody else all along the line come up? Mr. CURTIs. Yes, sir; but that makes it a request for $2,000 instead of $200. We are asking for these positions. But the increase we are
asking for for this appointment clerk is $200. If you put $2,000 in here, that would be an increase of $2,000 instead of $200. Now, we have asked for two additional clerks.
Mr. Johnson. You are asking for an increase in the pay of your telegraph operator from $1,100 to $1,300.
Mr. CURTIS. Yes, sir; that is a small increase.
Mr. BURLESON. Have you made any inquiry of the Western Union or any other telegraph company as to the salaries of operators in private employment?
Mr. CURTIS. No, sir; I have not, but I know that telegraph operators in other departments get more money than that. We have one man, but he does the entire work and he is a faithful employee. I do not think, when you consider what is paid in other departments, that you can consider $1,300 as too high à rate of pay for a telegraph operator.
Mr. Johnson. How long has he been there?
Mr. CURTIS. The work of the telegraph office has naturally increased with the growth of the Navy. It is heavy and important, more than 100 messages-incoming and outgoing—being handled daily. Many of these messages are in code, to secure secrecy or for economy, and these code messages are much more difficult to handle than ordinary messages and require care and abilty on the part of the operator.
Mr. BURLESON. Code messages are usually short messages, ordinarily embracing about 10 words, so that is about 1,000 words that he sends in a day. Now, a good, rapid telegraph operator can send about 40 words in a minute, and the sending of 1,000 words would require possibly 25 minutes of work for the man to do in a day.
Mr. CURTIS. I would like to get an operator of that kind.
Mr. BURLESON. Do you say that a rapid telegraph operator can not send 40 words in a minute ?
Mr. CURTIS. No, sir; I do not say that. But I want to say in regard to some of our code messages that they are the longest that we send.
Mr. BURLESON. How many words will your telegraph messages average ?
Mr. CURTIS. I would like to send a statement of that average down
Statement showing the number of telegrams, outgoing and incoming, handled by the Navy Department telegraph operator during the 7 days Oct. 25 to Nov. 1, 1912.
Date. Sent and Sent and received received
Included in the above statement are a number of incoming code messages and cables each day, the number of words in each ranging up to more than 40. On November 1 two cablegrams in code were received of 40 and 41 words, respectively. These cablegrams have to be repeated back, thus taking double time to handle. Also during this period there were sent out more than a dozen Code and partial code cablegrams, ranging up to 129 words, this particular one being sent on October 29. The work also involves a considerable amount of clerical work, such as the keeping of records of outgoing and incoming messages, the checking of the number of words in each outgoing message, reques s for the repetition of “not understood cables and messages" received, requests for replies to telegrams, and numerous minor duties that are necessary each day. The records show that there have been many days during the year in which more telegrams were handled than on any one day above mentioned. The work also involves the proper routing of cables, the cheapest and best rate always being considered. Private telegraph operators in Washington receive up to $35 per week. Mr. BURLESON. Well, you must admit, as a mathematical proposition, that if the messages average 10 words per message and there are 100 messages, and if the telegraph operator can send 40 words per minute, he would be required to work only 25 minutes in the day. Forty times 25 is 1,000, is it not? Mr. CURTIs. Yes, sir. Mr. GILLETT. I suppose he has something to do besides sending messages? Mr. CURTIs. Yes, sir; he has to keep a record of the messages and a record for the Western Union and other telegraph companies. He has to write them out on a typewriter. Mr. JoHNSON. He sends and receives messages? Mr. CURTIs. Yes, sir. - Mr. BURLESON. How long does it take a man to write a thousand words? Mr. CURTIs. I will be glad to send down information about that. I am informed by the operator that a 1,900-word incoming message was taken by him in 55 minutes, an average of between 34 and 35 words per minute. - Mr. BURLEsoN. It will be interesting to know just how many words your average message contains. Mr. CURTIs. The average number of words per message for the period covered by the foregoing statement was 23.8.
Mr. Johnson. Is there anything more you desire to say about that increase of force asked for? I see that you ask for an additional laborer, and you ask for two telephone switchboard operators. That does not increase the force, but you simply change the designation. Mr. CURTIs. In regard to the telephone operators, they are actually doing the same amount of work. Mr. BURLESON. How much are they receiving? Mr. CURTIs. One is receiving $720 and the other $600. Mr. BURLESON. Do you know what the average telephone operator is paid in New York and how many plugs each one handles? r. CURTIs. There are about 155 plugs. Mr. BURLEsoN. Do you know how much a telephone operator handling 150 plugs receives in New York? Mr. CURTIs. I understand that it is not much. Mr. BURLEsoN. $40 per month. Mr. CURTIs. Yes, sir; that is about the rate. Mr. BURLESON. And the cost of living is higher there than it is here. Mr. Johnson. What other paragraph are you interested in?
Mr. CURTIs. Do you want any information about the additional clerks of class 2 and class 1% We want an additional clerk at $1,400 and an additional clerk at $1,200. The reason for asking the additional clerk at $1,400 is this: Because of the low rates of pay, the hard work exacted, and the poor prospect of advancement there have been frequent changes in the clerical force in the office of the director of target practice. At the present time there are, and for the past two years there have been, two clerks assigned to this office, one on the rolls of the Bureau of Navigation at $840 per year and the other on the rolls of the Bureau of Equipment at $1,000 per year. Mr. BURLEsoN. How long has he been detailed ? Mr. CURTIs. For over a year. Mr. BURLEsoN. Then the Bureau of Equipment has one more clerk than they need. Mr. CURTIs. That is practically abolished at present, and the clerks are distributed over the entire department. The work of the office of target practice is very important work, and they have not been able to hold a man at $1,000. They want to get a man at $1,400 in the hope that they can retain him. Mr. Johnson. On page 174 in the last legislative bill we gave $9,500 out of the fund appropriated for the increase in the Navy to employ help in the Bureau of Equipment. I notice that you have dropped that out. Do you know why that was done? Mr. CURTIs. No, sir; is it not here? Mr. GILLETT. You say that the Bureau of Equipment has been abolished. Mr. CURTIs. It is abolished so far as active work is concerned, but you are still appropriating for the employees who are detailed to the various bureaus and who are performing work. That matter of $9,500 will be covered by Admiral Cone. This has been in the Bureau of Steam Engineering; that is, the technical force.