William Howard Taft

Executive Order 1143—Regulations Governing Appointments and Promotions in Diplomatic Service and for the Improvement of the Personnel of the Department of State

November 26, 1909

Whereas, the Congress, by Section 1753 of the Revised Statutes of the United States has provided as follows:

"The President is authorized to prescribe such regulations for the admission of persons into the civil service of the United States as may best promote the efficiency thereof, and ascertain the fitness of each candidate in respect to age, health, character, knowledge, and ability for the branch of service into which he seeks to enter; and for this purpose he may employ suitable persons to conduct such inquiries, and may prescribe their duties, and establish regulations for the conduct of persons who may receive appointments in the civil service."

And, whereas, it is deemed best for the public interest to extend to the diplomatic service the aforesaid provision of the Revised Statutes and the general principles embodied in the Civil Service Act of January 16th, 1883:

The Secretary of State is hereby directed to report from time to time to the President, along with his recommendations, the names of those secretaries of the higher grades in the diplomatic service who by reason of efficient service have demonstrated special capacity for promotion to be chiefs of mission.

There shall be kept a careful efficiency record of every officer of the diplomatic service, in order that there may be no promotion except upon well established efficiency as shown in the service, and that retention in the service may be conditioned upon the officers' maintaining a degree of efficiency well up to the average high standard which-the interests of the service demand.

Initial appointments from outside the service to secretaryships in the diplomatic service shall be only to the Classes of Third Secretary of Embassy, or, in case of higher existent vacancies, of Second Secretary of Legation, or of Secretary of Legation at such post as has assigned to it but one secretary. Vacancies in secretaryships of higher classes shall be filled by promotion from the lower grades of the service, based upon efficiency and ability as shown in the service.

To make it more practicable to extend to the appointment, promotion, transfer, or retention of secretaries in the diplomatic service the civil service principle of promotion on the basis of efficiency as shown in the service, and in order that the action of the Department may be understood by the officers concerned, all secretaryships in the diplomatic service shall be graded according to the importance, volume, difficulty, or other aspects of the work done by each mission in proportion to the number of men allotted to it, and this classification shall be made known to the members of the service.

A person separated from a secretaryship in the diplomatic service without delinquency or misconduct at his own request in writing may, within a period of one year from the date of such separation, be reinstated in the grade from which he was separated, provided he shall have been originally appointed after the prescribed examination for that grade. In the event, however, that such separation shall be for the purpose of undertaking other work under the Department of State, the limitation of one year for eligibility for reinstatement shall not hold. This rule shall be applicable as regards reinstatements to the consular service and also to the Department of State when transfer shall have been to another branch of the foreign service.

The Assistant Secretary of State, the Solicitor for the Department of State, the Chief of the Diplomatic Bureau, and the Chief of the Bureau of Appointments, and the Chief Examiner of the Civil Service Commission or some person whom the Commission shall designate, or such persons as may be designated to serve in their stead, are hereby constituted a Board whose duty it shall be to determine the qualifications of persons designated by the President for examination to determine their fitness for possible appointment as secretaries of embassy or legation.

The examination herein provided for shall be held in Washington at such times as the needs of the service require. Candidates will be given reasonable notice to attend, and no person shall be designated to take the examination within thirty days of the time set therefor.

The examinations shall be both oral and in writing and shall include the following subjects:—international law, diplomatic usage, and a knowledge of at least one modern language other than English, to-wit, French, Spanish, or German; also the natural, industrial and commercial resources and the commerce of the United States, especially with reference to the possibilities of increasing and extending the trade of the United States with foreign countries; American history, government and institutions; and the modern history since 1850 of Europe, Latin America and the Far East. The objects of the oral examination shall also be to determine the candidate's alertness, general contemporary information, and natural fitness for the service, including mental, moral and physical qualifications, character, address, and general education and good command of English. In this part of the examination the applications previously filed will be given due weight by the Board of Examiners. In the determination of the final rating, the written and oral ratings shall be of equal weight. A physical examination shall also be included as supplemental.

Examination papers shall be rated on a scale of 100, and no person with a general rating of less than 80 shall be certified as eligible.

No person shall be certified as eligible who is under twenty-one or over fifty years of age, or who is not a citizen of the United States, or who is not of good character and habits and physically, mentally, and temperamentally qualified for the proper performance of diplomatic work, or who has not been specially designated by the President for appointment to the diplomatic service subject to examination and subject to the occurrence of an appropriate vacancy.

Upon the conclusion of the examinations, the names of the candidates who shall have attained upon the whole examination the required mark will be certified by the Board to the Secretary of State as eligible for appointment.

The names of candidates will remain on the eligible list for two years, except in the case of such candidates as shall within that period be appointed or shall withdraw their names. Names which have been on the eligible list for two years will be dropped therefrom and the candidates concerned will not again be eligible for appointment unless upon fresh application, designation anew for examination, and the successful passing of such second examination.

Applicants for appointment who are designated to take an examination and who fail to report therefor, shall not be entitled to take a subsequent examination unless they shall have been specifically designated to take such subsequent examination.

In designations for appointment subject to examination and in appointments after examination, due regard will be had to the rule, that as between candidates of equal merit, appointments should be made so as to tend to secure proportional representation of all the States and Territories in the diplomatic service; and neither in the designation for examination or certification or appointment after examination will the political affiliations of the candidates be considered.

The Board of Examiners is authorized to issue such notices and Io make all such rules as it may deem necessary to accomplish the object of this regulation.

Transfers from one branch of the foreign service to another shall not occur except upon designation by the President for examination and the successful passing of the examination prescribed for the service to which such transfer is made. Unless the exigencies of the service imperatively demand it, such person to be transferred shall not have preference in designation for the taking of the examination or in appointment from the eligible list, but shall follow the course of procedure prescribed for all applicants for appointment to the service which he desires to enter. To persons employed in the Department of State at salaries of eighteen hundred dollars or more, the preceding ride shall not apply and they may be appointed on the basis of ability and efficiency, to any grade of the diplomatic service. The Secretary of State may, as provided by Rule III of the present Civil Service Rules, request the Civil Service Commission to hold special examinations for the position of clerk of class two or above in the department of State, such examination to follow generally and so far as the Secretary of State shall deem practicable, the lines of the present foreign service examinations.

In the case of promotions in the Department of State to the grades of clerk of class two or above, the Secretary of State may require the passing of an examination in the general nature of the present diplomatic or consular service examinations.

With further reference to the matter of promotions in the Department of State, the Secretary of State is directed to cause to be kept, as a guide in determining the promotion or retention of the personnel, a careful record of the efficiency of each clerk in the Department.

Signature of William Howard Taft

The White House, November 26, 1909.

William Howard Taft, Executive Order 1143—Regulations Governing Appointments and Promotions in Diplomatic Service and for the Improvement of the Personnel of the Department of State Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/363261

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