Chester A. Arthur

Executive Order

May 07, 1883

In the exercise of the power vested in the President by the Constitution, and by virtue of the seventeen hundred and fifty-third section of the Revised Statutes and of the civil-service act approved January 16, 1883, the following rules for the regulation and improvement of the executive civil service are hereby promulgated:


No person in said service shall use his official authority or influence either to coerce the political action of any person or body or to interfere with any election.


No person in the public service shall for that reason be under any obligations to contribute to any political fund or to render any political service, and he will not be removed or otherwise prejudiced for refusing to do so.


It shall be the duty of collectors, postmasters, assistant treasurers, naval officers, surveyors, appraisers, and custodians of public buildings at places where examinations are to be held to allow and arrange for the reasonable use of suitable rooms in the public buildings in their charge, and for heating, lighting, and furnishing the same for the purposes of such examinations; and all other executive officers shall in all legal and proper ways facilitate such examinations and the execution of these rules.


I. All officials connected with any office where or for which any examination is to take place will give the Civil Service Commission and the chief examiner such information as may be reasonably required to enable the Commission to select competent and trustworthy examiners; and the examinations by those selected as examiners, and the work incident thereto, will be regarded as a part of the public business to be performed at such office.

2. It shall be the duty of every executive officer promptly to inform the Commission, in writing, of the removal or discharge from the public service of any examiner in his office or of the inability or refusal of any such examiner to act in that capacity.


There shall be three branches of the service classified under the civil-service act (not including laborers or workmen or officers required to be confirmed by the Senate), as follows:

1. Those classified in the Departments at Washington shall be designated "The classified departmental service."

2. Those classified under any collector, naval officer, surveyor, or appraiser in any customs district shall be designated "The classified customs service."

3. Those classified under any postmaster at any post-office, including that at Washington, shall be designated "The classified postal service."

4. The classified customs service shall embrace the several customs districts where the officials are as many as fifty, now the following: New York City, N. Y.; Boston, Mass.; Philadelphia, Pa.; San Francisco, Cal.; Baltimore, Md.; New Orleans, La.; Chicago, Ill.; Burlington, Vt.; Portland, Me.; Detroit, Mich.; Port Huron, Mich.

5. The classified postal service shall embrace the several post-offices where the officials are as many as fifty, now the following: Albany, N. Y.; Baltimore, Md.; Boston, Mass.; Brooklyn, N. V.; Buffalo, N. Y.; Chicago, Ill.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Newark, N.J.; New Orleans, La.; New York City, N. Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Pittsburg, Pa.; Providence, R. I.; Rochester, N. Y.; St. Louis, Mo.; San Francisco, Cal.; Washington, D.C.


I. There shall be open competitive examinations for testing the fitness of applicants for admission to the service. Such examinations shall be practical in their character and, so far as may be, shall relate to those matters which will fairly test the relative capacity and fitness of the persons examined to discharge the duties of the branch of the service which they seek to enter.

2. There shall also be competitive examinations of a suitable character to test the fitness of persons for promotion in the service.


1. The general examinations under the first clause of Rule VI for admission to the service shall be limited to the following subjects: (1) Orthography, penmanship, and copying; (2) arithmetic--fundamental rules, fractions, and percentage; (3) interest, discount, and elements of bookkeeping and of accounts; (4) elements of the English lauguage, letter writing, and the proper construction of sentences; (5) elements of the geography, history, and government of the United States.

2. Proficiency in each of these subjects shall be credited in grading the standing of the persons examined in proportion to the value of a knowledge of such subjects in the branch or part of the service which the applicant seeks to enter.

3. No one shall be entitled to be certified for appointment whose standing upon a just grading in the general examination shall be less than 65 per cent of complete proficiency in the first three subjects mentioned in this rule, and that measure of proficiency shall be deemed adequate.

4. But for places in which a lower degree of education will suffice the Commission may limit the examinations to, first, penmanship, copying, and orthography; second, the fundamental rules of arithmetic; but no person shall be certified under this examination of a less grading than 65 per cent on each subject.

5. The Commission may also order examinations of a higher grade or upon additional or special subjects, to test the capacity and fitness which may be needed in any special place or branch of the service.


No question in any examination or proceeding by or under the Commission or examiners shall call for the expression or disclosure of any political or religious opinion or affiliation, nor shall any discrimination be made by reason thereof if known; and the Commission and its examiners shall discountenance all disclosure before either of them of such opinion by or concerning any applicants for examination or by or concerning anyone whose name is on any register awaiting appointment.


All regular applications for the competitive examinations for admission to the classified service must be made on blanks in a form approved by the Commission. All requests for such blanks and all applications for examination must be addressed as follows: (1) If for the classified departmental service, to the United States Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C.; (2) if for the classified postal service, to the postmaster under whom service is sought; (3) if for the classified customs service, to the head of either customs office in which service is sought. All officers receiving such applications will indorse thereon the date of the reception thereof and transmit the same to the proper examining beard of the district or office where service is sought or, if in Washington, to the Civil Service Commission.


Every examining board shall keep such records and such papers on file and make such reports as the Commission shall require, and any such paper or record in the charge of any examining board or any officer shall at all times be open to examination as the Commission shall direct, and upon its request shall be forwarded to the Commission for inspection and revision.


Every application, in order to entitle the applicant to appear for examination or to be examined, must state under oath the facts on the following subjects: (1) Full name, residence, and post-office address; (2) citizenship; (3) age; (4) place of birth; (5) health and physical capacity for the public service; (6) right of preference by reason of military or naval service; (7) previous employment in the public service: (8) business or employment and residence for the previous five years; (9) education. Such other information shall be furnished as the Commission may reasonably require touching the applicant's fitness for the public service. The applicant must also state the number of members of his family in the public service and where employed, and must also assert that he is not disqualified under section 3 of the civil-service act, which is as follows:

"That no person habitually using intoxicating beverages to excess shall be appointed to or retained in any office, appointment, or employment to which the provisions of this act are applicable."


1. Every regular application must be supported by proper certificates of good moral character, health, and physical and mental capacity for doing the public work, the certificates to be in such form and number as the regulations of the Commission shall provide; but no certificate will be received which is inconsistent with the tenth section of the civil-service act.

2. No one shall be entitled to be examined for admission to the classified postal service if under 16 or over 35 years of age, or to the classified customs service or to the classified departmental service if under 18 or over 45 years of age; but no one shall be examined for appointment to any place in the classified customs service, except that of clerk or messenger, who is under 21 years of age; but these limitations of age shall not apply to honorably discharged soldiers and sailors of the last war who are otherwise duly qualified.


1. The date of the reception of all regular applications for the classified departmental service shall be entered of record by the Commission, and of all other regular applications by the proper examining boards of the district or office for which they are made; and applicants, when in excess of the number that can be examined at a single examination, shall be notified to appear in their order on the respective records. But any applicants in the several States and Territories for appointment in the classified departmental service may be notified to appear for examination at any place at which an examination is to be held, whether in any State or Territory or in Washington, which shall be deemed most convenient for them.

2. The Commission is authorized, in aid of the apportionment among the States and Territories, to hold examinations at places convenient for applicants from different States and Territories, or for those examination districts which it may designate and which the President shall approve.


Those examined shall be graded, and shall have their grade marked upon a register after those previously thereon, in the order of their excellence as shown by their examination papers, except that those from the same State or Territory may be entered upon the register together, in the order of relative. excellence, to facilitate apportionment. Separate registers may be kept of those seeking to enter any part of the service in which special qualifications are required.


The Commission may give a certificate to any person examined, stating the grade which such person attained and the proficiency in the several subjects, shown by the markings,


1. Whenever any officer having the power of appointment or employment shall so request, there shall be certified to him by the Commission or the proper examining board four names for the vacancy specified, to be taken from those graded highest on the proper register of those in his branch of the service and remaining eligible, regard being had to the apportionment of appointments to States and Territories; and from the said four a selection shall be made for the vacancy.

2. These certifications for the service at Washington shall be made in such order as to apportion, as nearly as may be practicable, the original appointments thereto among the States and Territories and the District of Columbia upon the basis of population as ascertained at the last preceding census.

3. In case the request for any such certification or any law or regulation shall call for those of either sex, the four highest of that sex shall be certified; otherwise sex shall be disregarded in such certification.

4. No person upon any register shall be certified more than three times to the same officer in the customs or postal service or more than twice to any department at Washington, unless upon request of the appointing officer; nor shall anyone remain eligible more than one year upon any register. And no person while remaining eligible on any register shall be admitted to a new examination of the same grade.


1 Every original appointment or employment in said classified service shall be for the probationary period of six months, at the end of which time, if the conduct and capacity of the person appointed have been found satisfactory, the probationer shall be absolutely appointed or employed, but otherwise be deemed out of the service.

2. Every officer under whom any probationer shall serve during any part of the probation provided for by these rules shall carefully observe the quality and value of the service rendered by such probationer, and shall report to the proper appointing officer, in writing, the facts observed by him, showing the character and qualifications of such probationer and of the service performed by him; and such reports shall be preserved on file.

3. Every false statement knowingly made by any person in his application for examination and every connivance by him at any false statement made in any certificate which may accompany his application shall be regarded as good cause for the removal or discharge of such person during his probation.


Every head of a Department or office shall notify the Commission of the name of every person appointed to or employed in the classified service under him (giving the date of the appointment and the designation of the office or place) from those examined under the Commission, and shall also inform the Commission of the date of any rejection or final appointment or employment of any probationer and of the promotion, removal, discharge, resignation, transfer, or death of any such person after probation.


There are excepted from examination the following: (I) The confidential clerk or secretary of any head of a Department or office; (2) cashiers of collectors; (3) cashiers of postmasters; (4) superintendents of money-order divisions in post-offices; (5) the direct custodians of money for whose fidelity another officer is under official bond, but these exceptions shall not extend to any official below the grade of assistant cashier or teller; (6) persons employed exclusively in the secret service of the Government, or as translators or interpreters or stenographers; (7) persons whose employment is exclusively professional; (8) chief clerks, superintendents, and chiefs of divisions or bureaus. But no person so excepted shall be either transferred, appointed, or promoted, unless to some excepted place, without an examination under the Commission. Promotions may be made without examinations in offices where examinations for promotion are not now held until rules on the subject shall be promulgated.


If the failure of competent persons to attend and be examined or the prevalence of contagious disease or other sufficient cause shall make it impracticable to supply in due season for any appointment the names of persons who have passed a competitive examination, the appointment may be made of a person who has passed a non-competitive examination; which examination the Commission may provide for; but its next report shall give the reason for such resort to noncompetitive examination.


The Civil Service Commission will make appropriate regulations for carrying these rules into effect.


Every violation by any officer in the executive civil service of these rules or of the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, or fourteenth section of the civil-service act, relating to political assessments, shall be good cause for removal.


Chester A. Arthur, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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