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Executive Order 5610—Amendment of the Civil Service Rules Relating to Veterans' Preference

April 24, 1931

THE CIVIL-SERVICE rules are hereby amended as indicated below.

Rule VI, paragraph 1, is amended to read as follows by eliminating the sentence "Applicants for entrance examination who, because of disability, are entitled either to a pension by authorization of the Bureau of Pensions or to compensation or training by the Veterans' Bureau, and widows of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines, and wives of injured soldiers, sailors, and marines who themselves are not qualified, but whose wives are qualified for appointment, shall have ten points added to their earned ratings," and substituting therefor the sentence "Applicants for entrance examination who are honorably discharged and who establish by official records the present existence of a service-connected disability, and widows of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines, and wives of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines who because of service-connected disability are themselves not qualified but whose wives are qualified for appointment, shall have ten points added to their earned ratings; and this shall also apply to retired officers and enlisted men who establish through official sources the present existence of a service-connected disability in the same manner as is required of others who are granted disability preference":

Examination papers shall be rated on a scale of 100, and the subjects therein shall be given such relative weights as the commission may prescribe. Honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines shall have five points added to their earned ratings in examinations for entrance to the classified service. Applicants for entrance examination who are honorably discharged and who establish by official records the present existence of a service-connected disability, and widows of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines, and wives of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines who because of service-connected disability are themselves not qualified but whose wives are qualified for appointment, shall have ten points added to their earned ratings; and this shall also apply to retired officers and enlisted men who establish through official sources the present existence of a service-connected disability in the same manner as is required of others who are granted disability preference. In examinations where experience is an element of qualifications, time spent in the military or naval service of the United States during the World War or the war with Spain shall be credited in an applicant's ratings where the applicant's actual employment in a similar vocation to that for which he applies was temporarily interrupted by such military or naval service but was resumed after his discharge. Competitors shall be duly notified of their ratings.

Rule VI, paragraph 2, is amended to read as follows by eliminating the clause "but the names of disabled veterans, their wives, and the widows of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines shall be placed above all others," and substituting therefor the clause "but the names of persons entitled to disability preference as defined in paragraph 1 of this rule shall be placed above all others":

All competitors rated at 70 or more shall be eligible for appointment, and their names shall be placed on the proper register according to their ratings; but the names of persons entitled to disability preference as defined in paragraph 1 of this rule shall be placed above all others. The foregoing amendments to Civil-Service Rule VI will apply to future examinations conducted by the Civil Service Commission.

Rule VII, paragraph 1 (b), is amended to read as follows by eliminating the sentence "An appointing officer who passes over a veteran eligible and selects a nonveteran with the same or lower rating shall place in the records of the department his reasons for so doing," and substituting therefor the sentence "An appointing officer who passes over a veteran eligible and selects a nonveteran with the same or lower rating shall file with the Civil Service Commission the reasons for so doing, which reasons will become a part of the veteran's record but will not be made available to the veteran or to anyone else except in the discretion of the appointing officer":

The nominating or appointing officer shall make selections for the first vacancy from not more than the highest three names certified, or on the register, with sole reference to merit and fitness, unless objection shall be made and sustained by the commission, to one or more of the persons certified, for any of the reasons stated in Rule V, section 4. For the second vacancy he shall make selection from not more than the highest three remaining, who have not been within his reach for three separate vacancies, or against whom objection has not been made and sustained in the manner indicated. The third and any additional vacancies shall be filled in like manner. More than one selection may be made from the three names next in order for appointment, or from two names if the register contains only two, subject to the requirements of section 2 of this rule as to the apportionment. An appointing officer who passes over a veteran eligible and selects a nonveteran with the same or lower rating shall file with the Civil Service Commission the reasons for so doing, which reasons will become a part of the veteran's record but will not be made available to the veteran or to anyone else except in the discretion of the appointing officer. Any eligible who has been within reach for three separate vacancies in his turn may be subsequently selected, subject to the approval of the commission from the certificate on which his name last appeared, if the condition of the register has not so changed as to place him in other respects beyond reach of certification.

The Civil Service Commission is authorized to hold quarterly examinations for positions for which there are existing registers of eligibles, such examinations to be open only to the men and women entitled to disability preference as herein provided, the names of the resulting eligibles to be entered at the head of the existing registers in the order of ratings attained in competition with the disability-preference eligibles, if any, whose names may already appear at the head of such registers.

HERBERT HOOVER

The White House,

April 24, 1931.

Note: This Executive order resulted from recommendations in the "Report of the President's Advisory Committee on Veteran Preference," dated April 21, 1931. On the same day, the White House issued a text of the report, which follows:
The President:

We have the honor to report to you in the matter of veteran preference affecting the Executive civil service of the United States. Recommendations will appear at the end of this report.

You will recall that at the time you decided to appoint this Advisory Committee on Veteran Preference two groups of organized citizens were making representations to you as to the granting of veteran preference in connection with Federal employment.

Veterans organizations were claiming that veterans were not securing the proper consideration by appointing officers in the filling of positions in the Executive civil service; and especial point was made that disabled veterans should receive a greater proportion of appointments.

The other group found representation in the National Civil Service Reform League, a committee of which made report in general adverse to veteran preference. This organization later sent a letter to your committee under date of December 22, 1930, in which it stated as its view that the two serious objections to the Executive order of March 2, 1929, are:

1. The preference is not restricted to those veterans who were disabled in the actual performance of military or naval service in the war, and whose disability actually still exists; and

2. The order does not require that the veterans secure at least a normal passing mark of 70 percent before they may be eligible for any preference or other special dispensation.

The Reform League believed that the Act of July 3, 1930, whereby World War veterans are given disability allowance for disabilities which are not of service origin would so greatly increase the number of veterans entitled to disability preference in connection with civil service examinations as seriously to affect the efficiency of the Government service.

The study which your Committee has given to veteran preference has been directed and controlled not only by the fact that there is a statute requiring the granting of veteran preference, but also by the desire to ascertain the facts.

With this object in view the Committee addressed communications to the National Civil Service Reform League and to each of the recognized service organizations asking that they present to the Committee by January 1, 1931, briefs outlining their views and recommendations with respect to the Executive order of March 2, 1929, and its operation. The representatives of all these organizations and of two or three organizations which asked for hearings, were given opportunity for oral presentation of their views. Detailed statistical information was also secured.

The organizations or individuals who filed briefs with your Committee are The American Legion, through the Chairman of its National Committee on Veterans Preference; The Disabled American Veterans of the World War, through its National Commander and the Chairman of its National Legislative Committee; The United Spanish War Veterans, through its Commander in Chief, and a special committee; the National Civil Service Reform League, through its Secretary; the Retired Men's News of Arcadia, California; the Ex-Service Men's League of the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard, through its counsel; Engineer Clerks in whose behalf Mr. Truman J. Mead of Chicago, Illinois, addressed a letter to the Committee; Captain Harlan Wood, Past Department Commander, District of Columbia American Legion; Bureau of Engraving and Printing Post No. 23, The American Legion, Washington, D.C.; Veterans of Foreign Wars, through its Commander in Chief, Baltimore, Maryland, and its District of Columbia representative; and a committee of civilian employees of the Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C.

At hearings conducted by your Committee appeared Mr. Madison L. Hill representing the Ex-Service Men's League, District of Columbia; Captain Harlan Wood representing the District of Columbia Department of the American Legion; Mr. Paul J. McGahan representing the national organization of The American Legion; Captain Edwin S. Bettelheim representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Commander in Chief Matthias, Ex-Senator Rice W. Means, and Past Department Commander James G. Yaden, representing the United Spanish War Veterans; Captain Thomas Kirby representing the Disabled American Veterans of the World War; and Mr. Harry W. Marsh, Member of the Executive Committee, and Mr. H. Eliot Kaplan, Secretary, representing the National Civil Service Reform League.

President Coolidge, in creating the Advisory Committee whose report brought about the Executive order of March 2, 1929, stated that, "Its main purpose will be to ascertain ways and means for making Government positions available for the disabled veterans." The disabled veteran was again the object of solicitude on the part of the persons who wrote to and appeared before your Committee.

One statistical study showed that as a consequence of the Executive order of March 2, 1929, the number of disabled veterans appointed for the fiscal year 1930 reached a total of 1,996, as compared with the average number of 1,227 appointments each year for the six years ending with June 30, 1929.

It was found that of the 1,996 disabled veterans appointed last fiscal year, 447 attained earned ratings of less than 70 per cent in the examinations which resulted in their appointments, their entrance on the eligible registers being due to the fact that because of their disability they received a bonus of 10 points in their examination ratings. Your Committee believing that the information would be valuable in arriving at recommendations to be made to you, secured from the Civil Service Commission the names of these 447 disabled veterans, the examinations taken, the ratings therein, and the positions and departments and offices to which appointed; and asked their respective appointing officers for comment as to the efficiency and work performance of these disabled veterans.

The replies received covered 352 of the 447 disabled veterans, no reports being received concerning 25, and 70 others having been separated from the service or not reported on in sufficient detail to be statistically noted. The reports of appointing officers showed that in 51 cases the disability was a handicap in the performance of work, and in 288 cases not a handicap, and the effect of the disability was not stated in 13 cases. The appointing officers reported that the work of 177 of these employees compared favorably with that of employees who had earned 85 per cent or higher in the entrance examination; the work of 146 of these disabled veterans did not compare favorably with such employees; and in 29 cases no comparison was made. The reports of appointing officers showed that the work of 242 of these disabled veterans who had earned less than 70 per cent in the entrance examination compared favorably with the work of employees who had earned between 70 per cent and 85 per cent in such examinations; that in 90 cases the comparison was unfavorable; and that in 20 cases the comparison was not shown.

It is true that in proportion to the number of veterans who compete in examinations the operation of the preference statute as made effective by Executive orders results in a higher comparative percentage of appointments going to veterans and disabled veterans. This is shown by statistics compiled over a period of years. The last fiscal year is illustrative of previous years. During that year the disabled veterans furnished 3 per cent of the competitors, 3.6 per cent of the eligibles, and received 5.3 per cent of the appointments. The nondisabled veterans furnished 17.6 per cent of competitors, 18.9 per cent of the eligibles, and received 18.8 per cent of the appointments. Nonveteran competitors comprised 79.4 per cent of the total, provided 77.5 per cent of the eligibles, and received 75.9 per cent of the appointments. It will thus be seen that the bonus of 5 and 10 points materially assisted the veterans and disabled veterans in attaining eligibility, and that the additional preference accorded disabled veterans of placing their names at the head of eligible registers added greatly to the proportion of appointments they received in comparison with their percentage of eligibles on the registers.

Your Committee recognizes, of course, that under the preference statutes of Congress this larger proportion of appointments to veterans is warranted.

The Committee gave especial consideration to the classes of positions in the examinations for which veterans have competed and received appointment. The total number of veterans who received appointment in the Executive civil service last fiscal year was 9,269. Of this number 8,100 were appointed to positions where the maximum salary they could receive on appointment was $1,800 a year, and many of them received much less than $1,800. There were 883 veterans appointed as unskilled laborers. More than 2,500 entered the Postal Service; 1,755 received mechanic appointments in the Navy Yard Service; 337 in the Engineer Department at Large; more than 500 in the Prohibition Enforcement Service; 635 in the Immigration and Customs Services; and 488 were appointed as guards. Only 73 veterans were appointed in the group of positions with a salary range from $3,200 to $4,000 a year; 25 in the salary range from $4,000 to $5,200 a year; 1 was appointed as principal agronomist at $5,600, and 1 was appointed as assistant technical director at $8,000.

This showing as established from the official records of the Civil Service Commission, in the view of your Committee, does not seem to support any claim that veteran preference as at present administered seriously affects the efficiency of the Government service.

In expressing the view that the disabled veteran should receive special consideration, the representatives of veterans organizations who wrote to, or appeared before, your Committee seemed to believe that this special consideration beyond that accorded the nondisabled veteran should be based on a showing that the disability existed at the time of applying for civil service examination, and also that it should have service connection. In other words, the veteran who at the time of filing application was not suffering from a disability or if suffering from a disability it was not of service origin, should receive only the preference accorded veterans generally by operation of the preference statute of July 11, 1919. Your Committee finds itself in accord with this view.

A further study by your Committee was rounded on the complaint that appointing officers generally were not observing the preference statute, and were attempting to avoid appointments of veterans, and especially disabled veterans, as far as possible. As this is a serious charge your Committee gave it unusual consideration. In a general memorandum which accompanies this report appear two tables showing by actual figures and percentages the number of eligibles certified, appointed, passed over, declined or failed to reply, and on unused certificates or not reached for selection, divided into three groups, namely, disabled veteran eligibles, nondisabled veteran eligibles, and nonveteran eligibles. The complaint filed with your Committee was that, especially as concerns the disabled veteran eligibles, a too high proportion of those certified were passed over by appointing officers in their making selections for appointment from the certificates issued by the Civil Service Commission. The tables referred to show that 32 per cent of the disabled veterans whose names were certified were appointed, 39 per cent of the nondisabled veterans certified were appointed, and 36 per cent of the nonveteran eligibles certified were appointed.

Your Advisory Committee does not believe that this supports any claim that appointing officers deliberately attempt to avoid appointing disabled veterans or nondisabled veterans. Your Committee was so desirous of securing the facts in this particular study that it asked for specific instances where the claim was made that the appointing officer had improperly passed over the disabled veteran in filling the vacancy. For your information only one illustration among those considered is cited. The claim was made that a disabled veteran was passed over on a certificate issued for filling a position of occupational therapy aide. The vacancy was in a neuro-psychiatric hospital where his disability--deafness--was a complete bar to appointment, whereas for a similar position in a general hospital he could have been appointed. The vacancy, however, was in a mental disease hospital, and so his case appears in the statistical table as one where the disabled veteran was passed over and not selected. Similar facts were found to exist in other cases considered by your Committee.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Your Committee recommends the following changes in the present practice with respect to according preference to veterans under the Act of July 11, 1919.

1. That with respect to honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, or marines, their widows, or the wives of seriously disabled veterans, 10-point preference be granted only where it is officially established by the records of the War Department, the Navy Department, the Coast Guard, or the Veterans' Administration that there is an existing service-connected disability; and that the veterans found eligible hereunder have their names placed at the head of the eligible register. For all other classes of veterans 5-point preference will continue to be applied, the names of eligibles with their augmented ratings to be placed on the registers in the order of such ratings.

The essential change in this recommendation is the requirement that the disability for which the 10-point disability preference may be granted must exist at the time of application and must have service connection. The present practice is to grant 10-point, or disability, preference to "applicants for entrance examination who because of disability are entitled either to a pension by authorization of the Bureau of Pensions, or to compensation or training by the Veterans' Bureau, and widows of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines, and wives of injured soldiers, sailors, and marines, who themselves are not qualified, but whose wives are qualified to hold such positions."

It will be observed that under present practice the special disability preference of 10 points and of having the names placed at the head of eligible registers need not be founded on establishments of existing or service-connected disability.

2. That this same recommendation be applied to cover officers and enlisted men retired for service-connected disability which exists at the time of filing application for examination, and also to those officers and enlisted men retired not for disability but for age or length of service, who establish through official sources the present existence of service-connected disability in the same manner as is required of others who are granted disability preference.

The principal change from present practice in this recommendation is the latter clause permitting the granting of disability preference to officers and enlisted men retired not for disability but for age or length of service, who establish through official sources the present existence of service-connected disability in the same manner as other veterans who are granted disability preference.

3. That any changes herein recommended be applied to future examinations conducted by the Civil Service Commission.

4. That whenever an appointing officer passes over a veteran eligible and selects a nonveteran eligible with the same or lower rating, the reasons for such action shall be filed with the Civil Service Commission to become a part of the veteran's record, but that no copy of these reasons shall be furnished to the veteran concerned or to anyone else except in the discretion of the appointing officer.

Your Committee asks that special consideration be given to this recommendation; it was arrived at with hesitation and only after most careful study. The basis for the recommendation is that as the law requires that preference in appointment shall be given to veterans, no veteran eligible whose name is certified should be passed over in selection for appointment except for sound reasons; and that if these reasons are reduced to writing to be filed with the Commission, their adequacy as a basis for rejecting the veteran will receive due consideration before they are sent to the Commission for its records. Since an essential part of this recommendation is that the reasons are not to be made available to the veteran or to anyone else except upon approval of the appointing officer, no foundation is afforded for any charge that this filing of the reasons with the Commission would be an unwarranted invasion of the appointing power.

5. That the Civil Service Commission be authorized to hold quarterly examinations for positions for which there are existing registers of eligibles, such examinations to be open only to the men and women entitled to 10-point disability preference, as provided for in Recommendations Nos. 1 and 2 above, the names of the resulting eligibles to be entered at the head of the existing registers in the order of ratings attained in competition with the disability preference eligibles, if any, whose names may already appear at the head of such registers.

This recommendation will increase to some extent the work of the Civil Service Commission in preparing series of examination questions for the more difficult examinations, and will also increase the volume of rating work; but its approval will make possible the elimination by the Commission of its present practice of reopening competitive examinations to veterans under certain conditions. Approval of this recommendation would also give recognition to the principle that there is a social obligation on the Government to assist as far as possible with employment those veterans who were disabled in its service, and who, because the Commission holds examinations not more frequently than once in one, two, or three years, are afforded no special opportunity after the regular examination date to establish their qualifications for consideration for Federal employment.

If the foregoing recommendations meet with your approval, the attached draft of Executive order is submitted for signature.

Your Committee studied the following preference, among others, now accorded veterans, and does not recommend any change:

1. Release from the requirement that the apportionment of appointments in the departmental service at Washington, D.C., among the States and Territories be observed.
2. Waiver of age limits.
3. Retention preferences under certain conditions.
4. Unlimited reinstatement preference for war veterans who have served in the classified civil service.

In the accompanying memorandum are given statistical information and general information as to the history of veteran preference.
We have the honor to be,
Very respectfully,
THOMAS E. CAMPBELL, Chairman, Civil Service Corn mission
FRANK T. HINES, Veterans' Administration
ROYAL C. JOHNSON, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Veterans' Legislation
SETH W. RICHARDSON, Assistant Attorney General
JOHN THOMAS TAYLOR, Vice Chairman, Legislative Committee, The American Legion

Herbert Hoover, Executive Order 5610—Amendment of the Civil Service Rules Relating to Veterans' Preference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/212307

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