SIR:* In my message to the first session of the Fifty-first Congress I said:
I have suggested to the heads of the Executive Departments that they consider whether a record might not be kept in each bureau of all those elements that are covered by the terms "faithfulness" and "efficiency," and a rating made showing the relative merits of the clerks of each class, this rating to be regarded as a test of merit in making promotions.
*Addressed to the heads of the Executive Departments.
In some of the Departments this suggestion has been acted upon in part at least, and I now direct that in your Department a plan be at once devised and put in operation for keeping an efficiency record of all persons within the classified service, with a view to placing promotions wholly upon the basis of merit.
It is intended to make provision for carrying into effect the stipulations of the civil-service law in relation to promotions in the classified service. To that end the rule requiring compulsory examination has been rescinded. In my opinion the examination for promotion of those who present themselves should be chiefly, if not wholly, upon their knowledge of the work of the bureau or Department to which they belong and the record of efficiency made by them during their previous service. I think the records of efficiency kept from day to day should be open to the inspection of the clerks.
Very respectfully, yours,
Benjamin Harrison, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/205732