Westel Woodbury Willoughby.

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agency exercising cmrent control. With such an agency in
operation a substantially complete rectification of existing con-
ditions could probably be accomplished in less than a decade.

Opportimity for advancement ranks, of course, with adequacy
of compensation as a major factor in determining the attractive-
ness of the service. Obviously, the opportunity for advance-
ment in the federal service would be substantially enlarged, and
in a most attractive way, were the higher supervisory posts
placed upon a merit basis, as urged in preceding paragraphs;
for, even from the first, and increasingly as the system established
itself, those posts would normally be filled by promotion from
within the service. It is, however, easy to exaggerate the impor-
tance of this factor in enlarging the opportunity for advance-
ment, and such exaggeration is quite conunon in discussions
having for their theme the development of the federal service



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234 THE AMEBICAN POLITICAL SaENCE BBVIEW

as a career. The possibility of reaching the very highest posts
is undoubtedly of high value in its effect upon the morale of the
most ambitious and able members of the service. But on a
cold calculation of probabilities it is, of coiu^e, relatively imma-
terial to the average postal employee, for example, whether he
may or may not be eligible to a post of assistant postmaster-
general; and even in the post office of a large city it is at best of
but secondary importance to the average postal employee
whether the line of promotion open to him runs, as now, to the
rank of assistant postmaster, or whether it embraces also that of
postmaster. This much is said merely by way of coimterweight
to the emphasis which discussions of the question commonly
place on the other side. There is no disposition to minimize the
extreme desirability from every standpoint of placing the posi-
tions referred to on a merit basis with promotion from within
the service as the accepted method of selection.

There are other factors affecting the degree of opportunity for
advancement which are not so well recognized, but which, from
the standpoint of the run of employees, are probably of greater
importance. Space forbids more than a mere mention of these.
The extent to which the higher positions in one branch of the
service are filled by promotion from another branch (rather than
by selection from outside the service), when there is no suitable
personnel available in the same branch, is one of the most impor-
tant of these factors. Similar to, but clearly distinguishable
from this factor is the extent to which transfer is permitted from
one local office to another within the same branch of the service.
Still another factor is the procedure in force for retiring super-
annuated personnel; if such retirement be prompt and universal,
the opportunities for the yoimger personnel are obviously greatly
enlarged; the rate of advancement, not merely to the positions
formerly occupied by the retiring employees, but throughout
the service, is immensely accelerated. Finally, opportimity for
advancement within the service depends, in a measure, upon
the opportunity which exists for entering employment outside
the service. The greater the extent of such opportunity, and
the more frequently availed of, the more numerous will, of



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THE FEDERAL PEBSONNEL PBOBLEM 235

coiu^e, be the resignations in the higher ranks^ creating oppor-
tunities for advancement for those below. From this stand-
point the resignation of employees in the federal service to enter
other fields, if kept within reasonable limits, and if not confined
to the ablest men of the service, is by no means an unmixed evil.

In considering the problem of how the opportunity for ad-
vancement in the federal service may be enlarged, the fact must
never be lost sight of that there are serious natural limitations to
what may be done in this direction. Discussions of this subject
frequently seem to run on the implicit premise that the oppor-
tunity for advancement may be almost indefinitely enlarged by
proper administrative policies and methods. It needs but slight
examination, however, of the actual work processes involved in
the functions of the several federal services to compel an appre-
ciation of the fact that the quantity of routine, specialized,
regimented operations required is so vastly in excess of the
creative, executive or other individual activities, that for the
great mass of federal employees, as for the great mass of indus-
trial workers, there can be no prospect of even ultimate ascent
to posts of even intermediate responsibility and importance.
For the great mass a long future in the federal service cannot, in
the nature of the case, offer anything worthy to be called a
career. The best that it can hope to offer is security, adequate,
and, within fairly narrow limits, increasing, compensation, and
the sense of useful work faithfully done.

In this view one solution of the problem would seem to lie in
encouraging, rather than discouraging, a point of view which
looks at the routine employments of the federal service as a
temporary episode in occupational history. There are some
attractive possibilities in what might be done were this view
officially adopted and the employment program for those parts
of the service affected consistently worked out in accordance
with it. The rapid growth of the employment of women in the
routine work of the government, greatly accelerated by the war,
is indeed by way of bringing this condition to pass over a large
area of the service, regardless of theory; as despite numerous
exceptions, and despite the growing tendency of married women



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236 THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIBW

to seek employment, substantially the larger part of the yoimg
women employees added to the government forces in recent
years do not look upon it as a permanent employment.

Despite the emphasis laid above on the natural limitations
which exist in the matter of providing opportunity for advance-
ment for the run of employees, it cannot be too strongly insisted
upon that within those limitations the rate of advancement is
very largely determined by the administrative policies and
practices adopted with respect to the factors affecting oppor-
tunity which were enumerated. For the failure to adopt or
make provision for such policies and practices, the primary
responsibility must again rest upon Congress. Its flagrant
failure to provide a retirement system for superannuated em-
ployees is a matter of common notoriety. Similarly, wherever
it has by legislation attempted to regulate matters of transfer,
salary increase and other factors affecting promotion, it has
almost invariably enacted provisions dictated by the cheese-
paring economy of appropriation coinmittees, rather than by
any broad-gauged view of the needs of the personnel system. A
measure of responsibility must fall also upon the civil service
commission. It has unquestionably failed to reaUze the full
opportunity, presented to it in the exercise of its power to regu-
late the methods of filling positions, to work out such lines of
promotion and such plans for preference, in the filling of newly
created positions, to employees already in the federal service, as
would substantially have enlarged the opportunities for advance-
ment in a great number of cases.

Not only, however, have opportunities for advancement in
the service been far less numerous and varied than could have
been produced by wiser legislation and administration, but even
so far as they have existed, the system of advancement has been
in many of the services highly unsatisfactory. The lines of pro-
motion have not been defined so that the employee might enter
with a fair degree of assurance as to what the opportunities
before him were. In the actual selection and designation of
employees for promotion there have been inadequate safeguards
against favoritism and arbitrary action. With insignificant



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THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL PROBLEM 237

exceptions the civil service commission may be said to have
ignored the potential control over the promotional procedure
awarded it by the civil service rules. Without attempting here
to go into the difficult question of how far and in what way the
civil service conunission might usefully attempt to exercise a
control of this character, it should be emphasized that in the
development of a well-defined and well-administered promo-
tional system lies one of the major problems of the federal per-
sonnel system which has as yet received but scant attention.

Aside from adequacy of compensation and opportunity for
advancement, the chief factor in determining the attractiveness
of the service is doubtless the social esteem which attaches to it.
This is, of course, in a measure the product of the other condi-
tions referred to; but it depends also on additional factors, per-
haps the chief of which is the prevailing estimate of the efficiency
with which the work of the government is accomplished. The
operations of the government are so multifarious, and the degree
of efficiency prevailing in one branch of the service or another
will inevitably be so unequal that no current estimate on this
head can be at all accurate. But a general estimate does and
will exist, and it must be the study of those who seek to improve
the status of the federal personnel to see that this estimate is as
favorable as possible. Needless to say, the most patent factor
in this direction will be the actual improvement and intensifica-
tion in the efficiency of the government's work. The problem of
personnel is, of course, but a part of the general problem of
securing greater efficiency in the administration of the govern-
ment; but from this standpoint the positions of the two problems
are reversed, and the general problem of efficiency in the federal
government may be regarded as a phase of the problem of secur-
ing and retaining an efficient personnel. The promotion of all
measures looking to a fundamental improvement in the business
methods of the government, particularly the adoption of a
budget system and the revision of the administrative structure
of the government, thus becomes an essential item in a compre-
hensive personnel program.



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238 THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW

It is to be questioned, however, whether any merely adminis-
trative arrangement can suffice to raise and maintain the man-
agement of the federal business at a level of efficiency as high as
that which is secured in the general nm of large industrial organ-
izations by the imperative necessity of making profits and the
incentive which the management has to make them as large as
possible. For a substantial proportion of the federal personnel,
both directing and subordinate, no such necessity or incentive
is required — the instinct of workmanship is of itself sufficient
to stimulate the best and most conscientious efforts. It cannot
be denied, however, by one familiar with conditions in the
federal service that over large areas of the service such idealistic
incentives are hardly existent. Everyone who studies the federal
personnel problem with any attention is thus brought to specu-
late whether it would not be possible to introduce at least over
large branches of the service an incentive to productivity in the
shape of piece work and bonus systems of payment, and in some
establishments, as perhaps in the post offices and arsenals, in
the shape of a system of periodic rewards for general service
efficiency, corresponding to the dividends of profit-sharing indus-
trial concerns. This is as yet virgin soil, but in it may yet be
found and developed devices and methods which may go far
towards solving some of the problems of federal employment
and of public employment generally.

Such are the main problems which must be worked out if the
development of the federal personnel system is to keep pace, or
indeed even to catch up with, the enormous development in
administrative responsibility and operations which the federal
government is experiencing. How is this development to be
effected? Nothing can be clearer from the history of the federal
personnel administration than the utter incompetency of Con-
gress, by ordinary current legislative methods, to achieve a
satisfactory solution of these problems and to effect the innu-
merable current adjustments and accommodations which are
involved. Only an administrative agency, continuously and
exclusively occupied with the problem of personnel and vested



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THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL PROBLEM 239

with powers adequate to its responsibilities, can in any degree
meet the needs of the situation. The last is of the first impor-
tance. Congress has not hesitated to vest in the hands of an
administrative conunission complete control over railway rates
and practices, but with characteristic perversity it has jealously
guarded in its own hands a control over the many minutiae of
federal employment conditions. The willingness of Congress to
devolve large powers over the control of personnel upon a prop-
erly qualified administrative agency is the sine qua non of a
proper development of the personnel system.

Historically, the civil service commission has been an agency
set up over against the operating departments to check the
unregulated discretion of the appointing officers, particularly in
respect to appointments, and to investigate and cause to be
punished all infractions of the law and rules designed to prohibit
political activity by, or the solicitation of political contributions
from, employees. Both these fimctions must continue to be
exercised, but far from being the sole functions of the coromis-
sion, they should be subordinated to its constructive functions.
More and more the commission has come to demonstrate its
value, even to the best intentioned and most zealous of admin-
istrative officers, as . a recruiting agency of an efficiency far
surpassing that which could be attained by the several depart-
ments and services themselves. It must now demonstrate equal
service ability in assisting the departments in making promo-
tions, in finding suitable men in other departments to be trans-
ferred to vacancies, in enlarging the opportunities for promotion
in the departments, and in assisting the departments in the
development of helpful methods of personnel management
generally.

Successfully to accomplish these functions the present organi-
zation of the commission, in which the commissioners are
appointed by the President and are entirely cut off from and set
over against the departments, must give way to an arrangement
in which the several department heads and service heads secure
a large measure of representation and have a voice, and doubt-
less, too, a vote, in the formulation of the large personnel poli-



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240 THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW

cies of the government. Hardly less (essential to the solution
of the major problems with which such an enlarged and repre-
sentative agency would be confronted is the provision of ade-
quate representation for the employees themselves. As is well
known, the organization of the federal employees into unions
has proceeded apace in recent years, and if present tendencies
persist, it will be a matter of only a few years when the federal
service will be substantially unionized. Without exception these
unions disclaim, and with all sincerity, any intention to employ
the strike method. They are thus remitted to the employment,
on the one hand, of persuasion (including an appeal to public
opinion, and to the fairness of Congress and the chief executives
of the government), and, on the other hand, to alliance with the
organized labor movement with a view to securing their cooper-
ation in electing congressmen who will favor the cause of the
federal employee in Congress, or, what is much more frequent,
in defeating those who have earned the hostility of the employees.
Such a development has already manifested itself in several
cases, and time is not distant when a congressman coming from
a district where organized labor is a factor will oppose the wishes
of the employees' unions at his peril.

One may possess a full sympathy with the condition in which
the federal employees find themselves and with their attempts
to improve their condition by organization, and yet see in this a
development undesirable from every standpoint. The prob-
lems involved are, for the most part, administrative and not
legislative, and should have never come within the province of a
congressman to begin with. They should come before a body so
constituted as to be impervious to political considerations, and
enjojdng the confidence of the public, the employees and the
executive officers.

But a central agency alone, however representative and
powerful, must always be inadequate to solve the never-ending
stream of problems which issues from the administration of so
large and diversified a personnel system as that of the govern-
ment. The central agency must rest upon a wide base of per-
sonnel officers and boards, constructed on similar and harmonious



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THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL PROBLEM 241

principles, in the several departments, bureaus and field estab-
lishments. Hitherto, with negligible exceptions, personnel
administration in the federal service has been regarded as a
mere incident of operating administration. It must come to be
recognized throughout the service, even down to its minor divi-
sions, as a separate function, subservient to operation, in truth,
but having its own distinct purposes and prerogatives. Until
this condition is realized all improvement in legislation and in
the organization of central personnel agencies will be little more
than a gilding of the apex of the pyramid while the base remains
in the shadows.



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POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY AND STATE GOVERNMENT

W. p. DODD

Little attention has been devoted in this country to political
areas and their relationship to each other. Not much is to be
gained from a theoretical discussion of this subject, and this
'article is based upon a detailed study of conditions in Illinois.
Similar problems present themselves in every state, although the
details vary in different parts of the coimtry, and the effort is
made here to bring out the general issues involved, using the
conditions in a single state as the basis for discussion.

Attention should at the outset be called to the fact that the
situation is complicated by the fact that this state has but one
great city. The position of Chicago and Cook County consti-
tutes one of the serious political problems in connection with
reorganization of state and local government.

LEGISLATIVE AREAS

Areas for legislative and congressional representation demand
first consideration in this discussion. Before 1870 there were in
Illinois, as there are still in most of the states, two sets of dis-
tricts for representation in the state legislative body. In the
legislative apportionments in lUinois before 1848, the practice
was generally observed of keeping the smaller districts for repre-
sentatives within the limits of the larger state senatorial districts.
That is, the apportionment schemes resulted in general in the
avoidance of the crossing of lines as between the larger and
smaller areas of state legislative representation. Under the
apportionments of 1848, 1854 and 1861 in Illinois, no efforts
were made to keep the smaller representative districts within
the limits of the larger senatorial districts, and there were two
series of districts substantially independent of each other in
territorial area.

242



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POLITICAL OEOORAPHY AND STATE GOVBBNMENT 243

In order to develop a permanent political solidarity within
representative areas, there is distinct value in having a single
set of areas for representation in the two houses, and there is a
distinct disadvantage in having the areas for one house cross the
lines for the areas of the other house. Such a crossing of lines
creates confusion in party organization, and also makes it much
more difficult for the independent voters to organize themselves
with respect to legislative representation and to know the basis
of their representation in the two houses.

In Illinois since ISTO* the cumulative system of voting has
existed, and there has been but one series of representative areas —
the senatorial districts. From each senatorial district three
representatives are elected at large under a system of cumula-
tive voting. It is, of course, not necessary that cumulative
voting exist in order to use but one series of areas for representa-
tive purposes. In North Dakota the members of the house of
representatives are apportioned to, and elected at large from,
each senatorial district. Of course, the use of the senatorial
district for the election of representatives at large involves the
apportionment to a senatorial district of several representatives,
so long as the lower house of the state legislature is composed of
a materially larger number than the upper house.

Even if there are to be two sets of state representative areas,
it is relatively easy, however, to avoid the crossing of lines of
such areas, and to prevent the confusion which results from
such crossing of lines. If the senatorial areas are based upon
population there is no difficulty about dividing each senatorial
area into the number of representative districts to which its
population might entitle it, although even such a plan involves
a relationship between the members of the state house and
senate such that the larger number is divisible by the smaller.
In Minnesota the constitution provides that "no representative
district shall be divided in the formation of a senate district,"
and the New York constitution provides that each assembly
district "shall be wholly within a senate district."

These statements are, of course, based upon the assimiption
that representation in state legislatures is to be based upon



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244 THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE BEVIBW

n

population. It is, of course, true that- representation in many-
states is now largely based upon state governmental areas rather
than upon population, and that in substantially all of the states
where population is taken as a basis, county lines are to be
observed in the apportionment of senators and representatives
except in the cases where a county is entitled to more than one
senator. In connection with the representation in state legisla-
tures, it should also be borne in mind that each state is divided
into districts for the election of members to the national house
of representatives.

Illinois is now divided into fifty-one state senatorial districts,
and these fifty-one districts constitute the areas for the election
of the members to the state house of representatives. The
state is now also divided into twenty-five congressional districts,
and if a congressional reapportionment had taken place the
state would have been divided into twenty-seven districts upon
the basis of the census of 1910. In congressional apportion-
ments there is no requirement that county lines be observed,
even when it is possible to observe them, and as a matter of fact
in Illinois county lines are in some cases not followed with respect
to congressional districts even where this may have been pos-
sible. With the smaller number of members in Congress, the
presence of one county of large population adds to the difficulty
of adhering to county lines.

With respect to representative areas, the situation in Illinois
is less complex than that in most other states. There are merely
two sets of districts, the senatorial for state representative pur-
poses, and congressional districts for national representative
purposes. There is no definite relationship, however, between
these two sets of areas, and such a relationship would be difficult
to work out, in view of the fact that there is no definite and
permanent relationship between the niunbers of the two sets of
districts, although it might be possible to work out more of a
relationship than that now existing. No state has sought to
base its representation for state legislative purposes upon con-
gressional apportionments, and taking congressional districts as
a basis for senatorial representation in Illinos would probably



Online LibraryWestel Woodbury WilloughbyThe American political science review → online text (page 24 of 77)