Franklin D. Roosevelt

Executive Order 8743 Extending Civil Service.

April 23, 1941


I have signed today an Executive Order, to take effect July 1,1941, which brings into civil service more than one hundred thousand government positions which until today have been exempted.

The issuance of this Order is a significant milestone in civil service reform, both in the number and in the proportion of Federal positions to be filled in accordance with the Civil Service Act.

During my years in office, I have signed a number of Executive Orders extending the classified civil service. Three years ago I went as far as it was legally possible to go at that time by covering into civil service all positions not definitely excluded by statute and not policy-determining in character. I could not cover in numerous positions which had been exempted from civil service by specific Congressional enactments.

In the last year, however, two events of profound significance in terms of improvement in government have occurred. The Congress last November passed the Ramspeck Act, which removed numerous prohibitions against extending civil service to thousands of positions. It is under the authority of this Act that today's Order is issued. In February, "The President's Committee on Civil Service Improvement," which I appointed two years ago with Mr. Justice Reed as Chairman, made its final report to me. I have previously transmitted this report to Congress by special message. In substance this Executive Order accepts and, indeed, implements the recommendations of that Committee.

The Order includes the higher administrative, professional, and technical posts as well as the intermediate and lower grade positions, with the exception of a very few exemptions created by the Ramspeck Act itself. It is the fruition of the recommendation in 1937 of "The President's Committee on Administrative Management" that the merit system be extended "upward, outward and downward."

This Order will become generally effective on January l, 1942, at which time the positions will be brought within the competitive classified civil service. It provides that those positions becoming vacant between July 1, 1941, and January 1, 1942, will automatically be brought within the civil service when they become vacant and will thereafter be filled in accordance with civil service.

There are in each department and agency some positions of a policy-determining character which probably should be exempt from civil service requirements. The Civil Service Commission will immediately begin consultations with the several agencies to determine those very few positions.

The Committee on Civil Service Improvement has recommended two alternative plans for covering attorney positions into the service. After careful study of both plans, I have decided to put into effect, with certain minor modifications, the so-called "Plan A" which was recommended by a numerical majority of the Committee.

The increasing demands of Government make it essential that it should be able to command the highest quality of legal work. I have, therefore, decided to subject Government lawyers, like other professional men in the service of the Government, to the standards and the requirements of the merit system. We must shut out considerations of caprice or favoritism or worse in the selection of our law officers. It is important to enlist in the creation of this career system the utmost good will of the legal profession within and without the Government. "Plan A" commends itself to me as the most promising way to make effective the induction of the legal positions into our civil service system. The responsibility for working out the details for the future recruitment of Government lawyers will be primarily in the hands of a committee of lawyers, to be named by the President, whose professional standing and personal qualities will give assurance of complete disinterestedness. This committee will serve as an arm, as it were, of the Civil Service Commission in working out this aspect of civil service. The details of this procedure are set forth in the Order.

For the first time in the history of this Government the greatest possible opportunities are now open for the development of a broad merit system which will further encourage men and women of outstanding ability to enter the government under conditions which will offer them fair and equal opportunities to build satisfactory careers.

The requirements of today and those of the future are so great that the services of the best minds in the Nation must be secured if governmental affairs are to be conducted in the manner demanded by modern conditions and at the high level of ability which a democratic Government owes to the people of the United States.

Executive Order:

By virtue of the authority vested in me by section 1 of the Act of November 26, 1940, entitled "Extending the Classified Executive Civil Service of the United States" (54 Stat. 1211), by the Civil Service Act (22 Stat. 403), and by section 1753 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

SECTION 1. All offices and positions in the executive civil service of the United States except (i) those that are temporary, (2) those expressly excepted from the provisions of section 1 of the said Act of November 26, 1940, (3) those excepted from the classified service under Schedules A and B of the Civil Service Rules, and (4) those which now have a classified status, are hereby covered into the classified civil service of the Government.

SECTION 2. Section 1 of this Order shall become effective on January 1, 1942, except that as to positions affected thereby which are vacant at any time after June 30, 1941, and before January 1, 1942, it shall become effective when the vacancies first exist during such period, and appointments to such vacant positions shall be made in accordance with the Civil Service Rules as amended by section 3 of this Order, unless prior express permission is given by the Civil Service Commission for appointment without regard thereto.

SECTION 3. (a) Upon consideration of the report of the Committee on Civil Service Improvement (House Document No. 118, 77th Congress) appointed by Executive Order No. 8044 of January 31, 1939, it is hereby found and determined that the regulations and procedures hereinafter prescribed in this section with respect to attorney positions in the classified civil service are required by the conditions of good administration.

(b) There is hereby created in the Civil Service Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) a board to be known as the Board of Legal Examiners (hereinafter referred to as the Board). The Board shall consist of the Solicitor General of the United States and the Principal Legal Examiner of the Civil Service Commission, as members ex officio, and nine members to be appointed by the President, five of whom shall be chosen from the chief law officers of the Executive departments, agencies or corporate instrumentalities of the Government, two from the law-teaching profession, and two from attorneys engaged in private practice. The President shall designate the chairman of the Board. Five members shall constitute a quorum, and the Board may transact business notwithstanding vacancies thereon. Members of the Board shall receive no salary as such, but shall be entitled to necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties hereunder.

(c) It shall be the duty of the Board to promote the development of a merit system for the recruitment, selection, appointment, promotion, and transfer of attorneys in the classified civil service in accordance with the general procedures outlined in Plan A of the report of the Committee on Civil Service Improvement, appointed by Executive Order No. 8044 of January 31,1939.

(d) The Board, in consultation with the Civil Service Commission, shall determine the regulations and procedures under this section governing the recruitment and examination of applicants for attorney positions, and the selection, appointment, promotion, and transfer of attorneys, in the classified service.

(e) The Commission shall in the manner determined by the Board establish a register or registers of eligibles from which attorney positions in the classified service shall be filled: Provided, That any register so established shall not be in effect for a period longer than one year from the date of its establishment. Upon request of the Board, the Commission shall designate appropriate regions or localities and appoint regional or local boards of examiners composed of three persons approved by the Board, within or without the Federal service, to interview and examine such applicants as the Board may recommend.

(f) The number of names to be placed upon any register of eligibles for attorney positions shall be limited to the number recommended by the Board; and such registers shall not be 'ranked according to the ratings received by the eligibles, except that persons entitled to veterans' preference as defined in section i of Civil Service Rule VI shall be appropriately designated thereon.

(g) Any person whose name has been placed upon three registers Of eligibles covering positions of the same grade, and who has not been appointed therefrom, shall not thereafter be eligible for placement upon any subsequently established register covering positions of such grade.

(h) The eligibles on any register for attorney positions shall be apportioned among the several States and Territories and the District of Columbia upon the basis of population as ascertained at the last preceding census, and the Commission shall certify to the appointing officer for each vacancy all the names on the appropriate register which meet the apportionment requirements: Provided, That whenever the Board shall be of the opinion that apportionment of eligibles on any register for attorney positions is not warranted by conditions of good administration, it shall so notify the Commission, which shall thereafter certify all the persons on such register to the appropriate appointing officer. The appointing officer shall make selections for any vacancy or vacancies in attorney positions from the register so certified, with sole reference to merit and fitness.

(i) Any position affected by this section which is vacant after June 30, 1941, may be filled before available registers have been established pursuant to this section only by the appointment of a person who has passed a noncompetitive examination prescribed by the Commission with the approval of the Board, and such person after the expiration of six months from the date of his appointment shall be eligible for a classified civil-service status upon compliance with the provisions of section 6 of Civil Service Rule II, other than those provisions relating to examination.

(j) The incumbent of any attorney position covered into the classified service by section 1 of this Order may acquire a classified civil-service status in accordance with the provisions of section 6 of Civil Service Rule II: Provided, That the noncompetitive examination required thereunder shall be prescribed by the Commission with the approval of the Board.

(k) The Commission with the approval of the Board shall appoint a competent person to act as Secretary to the Board; and the Commission shall furnish such further clerical, stenographic, and other assistants as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.

(1) The Civil Service Rules are hereby amended to the extent necessary to give effect to the provisions of this section.

SECTION 4. The noncompetitive examinations prescribed pursuant to sections 3 and 6 of this Order and section 2(a) of the said Act of November 26, 1940, shall, among other things, require any person taking such examination to meet such reasonable standards of physical fitness and personal suitability as the Civil Service Commission may prescribe.

SECTION 5. Persons who on the effective date of section 1 of this Order are on furlough or leave without pay from any position covered into the classified service by that section may be recalled to duty within one year of the date that they are furloughed or given leave without pay, and may be continued in such positions thereafter but shall not thereby acquire a classified civil-service status. If they are not recalled to duty within the time specified herein, they shall be separated from the service.

SECTION 6. Any person who in order to perform active service with the military or naval forces of the United States has left, or leaves, a position (other than a temporary position) which is covered into the classified civil service under section 1 of this Order shall be reinstated in the department or agency to the position in which he last served or to a position of like seniority, status, and pay in the same department or agency, and upon re instatement thereto may acquire a classified civil-service status: Provided, (1) that he has been honorably discharged from the military or naval service, (2) that he makes application for reinstatement within forty days of such discharge, (3) that the head of the department or agency concerned recommends within one year of his reinstatement that he be permitted to acquire a classified civil-service status and certifies that he has served with merit for at least six months, and (4) that he qualifies in such suitable noncompetitive examination as the Commission may prescribe.

SECTION 7. Executive Order No. 8044 of January 31, 1939, is hereby revoked so far as it applies to positions covered into the classified civil service by this Order.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Executive Order 8743 Extending Civil Service. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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