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Executive Order

August 05, 1873

The Civil Service Commission, at its session at Washington which terminated June 4, 1873, recommended certain further rules to be prescribed by the President for the government of the civil service of the United States. These rules as herewith published are approved, and their provisions will be enforced as rapidly as the proper arrangements can be made.


By the President:


Secretary of State.


Rule 1.--It being essential to the public welfare to maintain in the Executive the exercise of the power of nomination and appointment vested by the Constitution, and thereby to secure that measure of independence and separate responsibility which is contemplated by that instrument; and it being needful, in making such nominations and appointments, that the appointing power should obtain and in the proper Department preserve the evidence of fitness in reference to which all such nominations and appointments should be made: Therefore recommendations concerning any nomination or appointment to office or place in the civil service can not be considered unless made in writing, signed by the person making them, setting forth the character of the person recommended and his qualifications for the office in reference to which the recommendation is made; nor, when the recommendation is by a person holding an office or station in or under the Government of the United States, can such written recommendation, except when made in response to a written request by the officer making the appointment, or in the discharge of an official duty imposed by the Constitution or the laws, be considered as entitled to any greater weight than if made by such person as a private individual. But this rule shall not apply to recommendations made by officers as to their own subordinates.

Rule 2.--While it is not the purpose of the rules and regulations prescribed for the government of the civil service either to restrict the power of removal or to extend the tenure of service, such power will not be exercised arbitrarily, and therefore applications must not be entertained by any authority having the duty of nomination or appointment for the removal of any person in the civil service, nor will any person be removed for the mere purpose of making a place for any other person.

Rule 3.--To prevent any misapprehension in the public mind in regard to the functions of the members of the Civil Service Commission and of the members of any board of examiners, it is declared not to be any part of the duty or authority of any such member to act upon, take part in, or in any way entertain any recommendation, application, or question concerning appointments or removals in respect of the civil service, otherwise than in the strict discharge of their respective duties as prescribed by the rules and regulations; and for the same purpose it is further declared that the functions of the members of said Commission as to the matters aforesaid extend only to the question of the proper rules and regulations to be made and to supervising their application, and that the functions of the examiners as to said matters extend only to preparing for, conducting, rating, and making reports concerning examinations required to be made under such rules and regulations.

Rule 4.--The grouping heretofore made for the Executive Departments at Washington is hereby modified by striking out the words "female clerks, copyists, and counters, at $900 a year," these places being below the grade of clerkships of class I; and all applicants for such positions shall be examined in (1) penmanship, (2) copying, (3) elements of English grammar, chiefly orthography, and (4) fundamental rules of arithmetic, except that mere counters may be examined only in the fundamental rules of arithmetic and as to their facility in counting money; and those found competent by such examination shall be reported in the order of their excellence as eligible for appointment, and selections may be made by the appointing power, at discretion, from the list of those so reported, being at liberty to give preference to such as may be justly regarded as having the highest claims to public consideration by reason of loss of support or of property occasioned by the death or disability of any person in the defense of the Union in war or in other public service of the Government. And in the notices of the examination of females to fill vacancies among those last mentioned it shall be stated as follows: "That from among all those who shall pass a satisfactory examination the head of the Department will be at liberty to select such persons for the vacancies as may be justly regarded as having the highest claims to public consideration."

Rule 5.--The notices to appear at any examinations other than those referred to in the fourth rule of this series, so far as practicable and necessary to prevent misapprehension, shall advise female applicants to whom they may be sent of any limitation which the law or the necessities of the public service impose upon such applicants entering the vacancies for which the examinations are to take place.

Rule 6.--That it shall be the duty of the respective boards of examiners, on the written request of heads of Departments, to hold examinations in anticipation of vacancies, as well as to fill vacancies, and to prepare lists showing the results of competition, so that when any such vacancy may happen there shall be those thus shown to be eligible to nomination or appointment, from whom the proper selection shall be made according to the provisions of the rules and regulations relating to competitive examination; and examinations upon like request shall be held in reference to vacancies to be filled under the fourth rule of this series.

Rule 7.--Applicants for appointment as cashiers of collectors of customs, cashiers of assistant treasurers, cashiers of postmasters, superintendents of money-order divisions in post-offices, and other custodians of large sums of public money for whose fidelity another officer has given official bonds may be appointed at discretion; but this rule shall not apply to any appointment to a position grouped below the grade of assistant teller.

Rule 8.--In cases of defalcation or embezzlement of public money, or other emergency calling for immediate action, where the public service would be materially injured unless the vacancy is promptly filled without resorting to the methods of selection and appointment prescribed by the rules and regulations, or when a vacancy happens at a place remote and difficult of access and the methods prescribed for filling it can not be applied without causing delay injurious to the public service, the appointment may be made at discretion; but this rule shall not apply to any place which is provided to be filled under the rules of competitive examination.

Rule 9.--For the purpose of bringing the examinations for the civil service as near to the residences of those desiring to be examined as the appropriation at the command of the President will warrant, and for the further purpose of facilitating as far as practicable the making of selections for such service equably from the several portions of the Union, while at the same time preserving the principle of promoting merit as tested by fair competition, it is provided as follows:

(1) That the several States and Territories are grouped into five divisions, to be designated as civil-service districts, the said districts to be numbered consecutively from one to five, as follows:

I. The first district embraces the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York; and the examinations therein shall be held alternately at the city of New York and the city of Boston, but first at the city of New York.

II. The second district embraces the States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia; and the examinations therein shall be held at Washington.

III. The third district embraces the States of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Kentucky; and the examinations therein shall be held alternately at Cincinnati and Detroit, but first at Cincinnati.

IV. The fourth district embraces the States of Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, California, and Oregon, and also all the Territories except New Mexico and the District of Columbia; and the examinations therein shall be held at St. Louis.

V. The fifth district embraces the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee, together with the Territory of New Mexico; and the examinations therein shall be held alternately at the city of Savannah and the city of Memphis, but first at the city of Savannah.

(2) That in each of said districts examinations for admission to the civil service at Washington shall be conducted as hereinafter provided; and those whose residence is within any such district at the time of filing the application for examination shall be regarded as belonging to such district in reference both to competition and to appointments; and each district shall be treated as a sphere of competition, and those so residing therein, wherever examined, shall be regarded as competing only with each other; but a person residing in any district may be allowed or notified to be examined in any other district.

(3) All applications for examination for service at Washington must be addressed to the head of the Department at that city which the applicant desires to enter, and be in conformity to the previous rules and regulations so far as the same are not modified by this series; and every such application must be dated, must give the town or municipality as well as the State or Territory where the applicant has his legal residence, and also his post-office address.

(4) Each of the heads of Departments will cause to be kept in permanent form a register of all such applicants for his Department, to be called a "Register of applicants," and will cause such applications to be preserved on file for convenient reference.

(5) The provisions of the former rules and regulations in reference to the examining boards in the Departments and in the other local offices in the various cities, so far as consistent herewith, are continued until otherwise ordered.

(6) The President will employ or designate a suitable person to be chief examiner, whose duty it will be, subject to the supervision of the Civil Service Commission, to promote uniformity in preparing for, conducting, reporting, and grading the examinations by said boards at Washington, and to prepare for, attend, supervise, and report the examinations herein provided to be held elsewhere than at Washington.

(7) The several heads of Departments must also cause to be made in permanent form and to be preserved a "Record of persons eligible for appointment," arranging under separate headings those resident in each separate district, wherein shall be entered the names of the persons who have been examined within twelve months now last past, and who are still eligible to nomination or appointment; and to such record must from time to time be added the names of those persons who shall hereafter pass an examination which shall show them to be so eligible for nomination or appointment. And such "Record of persons eligible for appointment" shall be so kept and the names therein be so classified that all those whose residences appearing as aforesaid to be in the same districts shall be tabulated together, so as to show their relative excellence in each said district, except that the names of all those examined under the fourth rule of this series shall be separately entered upon the "Record of persons eligible for appointment" for each Department, so as to show where they reside.

(8) That the officer having the power of making nomination or appointment may resort for that purpose to those so entered in the "Record of persons eligible for appointment" as residing in either of said civil-service districts; but (except in respect of those examined under said rule 4) the method of competition heretofore provided must be regarded as applying among those so registered as residing in any such district, and as requiring the nomination and appointment to be made from some one of the three persons graded as the highest on some one of said five several arrangements of persons so eligible.

(9) At a reasonable time before any examination is to take place each head of Department will furnish the chief examiner with a list of those to be examined, and ten days before any examination is to take place in any said district, elsewhere than at Washington, notice shall be sent by mail by such chief examiner to all such applicants residing or allowed to be examined in such district, stating the time and place of such examination and the other matters of which the rules and regulations require notice to be given.

(10) For the purpose of the examinations last mentioned the said chief examiner shall receive from the several heads of Departments at Washington and from the head of any local office which may request to have any examinations made of persons for said offices the names of those who are to be examined at any place outside of Washington, and shall make a list of the same, showing the date of the filing of each application, which he shall produce at the place of examination; and the examination shall be held of all those on such list who shall duly appear and submit thereto, provided the number be not so great, in the opinion of the examining board, as to render the examination of the whole impracticable, in which event only a reasonable number, to be selected in the order of the date of the filing of their applications, need be examined.

(11) For each place outside of Washington where such examination is to be held the President will designate persons, to be, when practicable, suitable officers of the United States, who, together with such chief examiner, or some substituted departmental examiner from Washington to be sent in his place when such chief examiner can not attend, shall constitute the board for such examination; and by said persons, or a majority thereof, of whom such chief examiner or said substitute shall be one, such examinations shall be held and certified in a uniform manner; and the time occupied by each person examined shall be noted on the examination papers. The questions to he put to those examined as applicants through the request of either head of Department or head of local office shall be such as may be provided and as might be put if all such examinations were, or were to be, conducted under the rules and regulations by the examining boards of any such Department in Washington or by any such local board.

(12) The chief examiner or his substitute shall make reports to each Department and local office separately in respect of all such persons as either said head of Department or of a local office requested to be examined, and said reports, respectively, shall be accompanied by the examination papers of those so separately reported; and the board of examiners in each Department or local office shall make up and state the excellence of each person so reported as examined, and such excellence, being not below the minimum grade of 70 per cent, shall be duly entered in the "Record of persons eligible for appointment" in the proper district or local office.

(13) The district examinations herein provided for shall be held not more than twice in any one year in the same district, except in Washington, where an examination may be held in respect of each Department as frequently as the head of such Department, subject to the approval of the President, may direct; and all persons so examined in Washington, wherever they may reside, shall be entered on the "Record of persons eligible for appointment" equally as if examined elsewhere.

(14) Whenever the entry of the name of any person has been on the "Record of persons eligible for appointment" during eighteen consecutive months, such entry shall be marked "Time expired," and such name shall not again be placed thereon except as the result of another examination.

(15) Persons who may be required to be examined for any custom-house, post-office, or other local office or place of service other than Washington may be notified by the head of such office to appear and be examined at any examination provided for under this rule; and the result of such examination shall be reported by the chief examiner or his substitute to the proper examining board for such office or place, or to the head of the local office; and such board shall enter the name, with the proper indication of the grade of excellence, among those who are to compete at any such place or office, and from whom selection, on the basis of competition, shall be made.

(16) But where the result of any examination aforesaid shall show the excellence of any such applicant to be below the minimum grade of 70 per cent (on the basis of 100 as perfect), the only entry thereof to be made in registers of the Department or of local office shall be of the words "Not eligible," which shall be written against the name of such person in the register of applicants; and such applicant shall not be again examined for any Department or office within six months of the date of the former examination.

(17) The provisions of this rule do not apply to examinations for promotion, nor do they apply to the State Department, in which examinations will be conducted under the provisions of the Executive order of March 14, 1873.

(18) Subject to the other provisions of this rule, the times of holding the examinations herein provided for in the first, third, fourth, and fifth districts, respectively, shall be fixed by the chief examiner after consultation with the heads of Departments at Washington. One examination, however, shall be held in each of the last-mentioned districts prior to the 1st day of November next, and the chief examiner shall on or before that date make a report in writing to the Civil Service Commission, setting forth generally the facts in regard to the examinations referred to in this rule and appropriate suggestions for increasing their usefulness.

Rule 10.--So many of the persons employed by the President under the ninth section of the act of March 3, 1871, as are referred to in the opinion of the Attorney-General of the date of August 31, 1871, under the name of the Civil Service Commission, and are still in such employment, together with the successors of those who have resigned, and their successors, shall hereafter be regarded as composing and shall be designated as "The Civil Service Commission;" and the use of the designation "Advisory Board," as referring to such persons, will be hereafter discontinued.

Ulysses S. Grant, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203673

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