Civil Service.A standard authority defines civil service as "That branch of the public service which includes all executive offices not connected with the army or navy." The same authority says: "Owing to the complexity of modern government and the variety of its functions, the civil service has become very complex, and the problem of its effective administration a difficult one."
About 1830 what is known as the "spoils system" was engrafted upon the American civil service. Political parties adopted as their slogan the cry of "To the victors belong the spoils," and appointments to public office were made more with regard to political activity than to fitness for the duties to be discharged. By 1835 the conditions became such that Daniel Webster declared in Congress that "Offices are created, not for the benefit of those who fill them, but for public convenience." Nearly half a century more elapsed before any steps were taken to reform the civil service or the methods of making appointments. But in Jan., 1883, Congress passed "An act to regulate and improve the civil service of the United States," in which it was provided that the "merit system" should determine appointment and tenure of office of a large number of employees in the various departments of the government service.
Since that time a number of states and cities have adopted the merit system of making appointments in departments where the work is purely of an executive character, Wisconsin probably leading all the other states in the thoroughness with which the system is applied. Gov. Glick sought to have the educational, charitable and reformatory institutions of Kansas placed under this system, and announced in one of his messages to the legislature that, "whether you so amend the law or not, the course indicated will govern the present executive in his actions and appointments, so that none of our state institutions shall be run in the interests of any party or faction, or turned into a political machine."
Nothing was done at that time, but the act of March 3, 1905, provided that "It shall be the duty of the governing board of trustees of the institutions hereinafter named forthwith to formulate rules and regulations prescribing, so far as can be done, the qualifications necessary in order to secure employment in their respective institutions, together with provision for ascertaining whether or not applicants for positions in such institutions are qualified to fill the same, with further provision for the selection of those most capable among such applicants."
It was also provided that such rules and regulations, once established, should be strictly followed by boards in making appointments, and that assistants, subordinate officers and employees might he appointed by the superintendent or other chief executive officer, and removed by him for cause, provided "that no political action or political affiliation shall be sufficient cause for removal." Any superintendent removing any one for political reasons was subject to forfeiture of his position.
The institutions named in the act were the schools for the blind, the deaf, the feeble minded, the soldiers' orphans home, the industrial schools, the state reformatory, the state penitentiary, "and all other charitable and penal institutions of the State of Kansas."
In all cities adopting the commission form of government under the provisions of the act of Feb. 10, 1909, the city commissioners must, by ordinance, appoint three civil service commissioners, whose duty it shall be to hold examinations and determine the qualifications of applicants for positions under the city government. And when a vacancy occurs, the civil service commission shall certify to the city commissioners two names from the eligible list for every vacancy to be filled, from which names the city commissioners shall select the person for appointment. No removals from the municipal civil service shall be made except for cause.
The act of Feb. 12, 1908, placed the fire departments of cities of the first class under civil service regulations, by providing that all appointments thereto should be made "solely on the basis of merit and fitness for service," and that no removals from the department should be made to make places for other men.Pages 350-352 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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