THE CIVIL SERVICE REPORT.
Tho report of the Civil Service Commission has been laid before Parliament, .and as was to be expected it shows a most unsatisfactory state of things. The Commissioners state that they are conscious of having loft some large and important branches of the service uninvestigated, of having inquired only superficially into some, and exhaustively into none. The . time at their disposal between their appointment and the sitting of Parliament prevented them in fact from making such a thorough and searching inquiry into the state of the Civil Service, as the colony would doubtless wish them to do, and as they themselves desired, but notwithstanding, their work has been sufficiently comprehensive to show that the colony has to pay a very large amount of money for services that are useless, for work that is blundered, and requires to be done over again ; and that throughout the whole Civil Service large saving’s could be made without decreasing, but rather increasing the efficiency of the service. They find that there are no less than 10,853 individuals in all departments of the Government employ, but tho Commissioners devoted most of their time and energies to the railway, as early in their investigations they found that it was in that department reform was most needed. With the management of the South Island Railways by a Commissioner, they found groat fault, and accuse the management of an evident tendency to extravagance. Men with no special training or ability for the positions they hold have been appointed to highly paid offices, and to perform duties that were either unnecessary or that could bo done by ordinary clerks. There are three separate departments of the service, which are jealous of each other, and the work is carried on by these in a spirit of antagonism to each other. The Royal Commissioners hold it as indispensable that one head should have complete control of the whole service, but find on our railways that the traffic manager can give no orders to the engine-drivers except through the locomotive engineers, and an instance of how this red tapeism works is given in the fact that a pointsman under the traffic manager’s control refused to comply with the regulation insisted on by the drivers under the engineer’s control —in consequence, trains were brought to a standstill. To get rid of this red-tapeism, the Commissioners suggest that a competent man be obtained willing to control the whole system, and work the many reforms that would be patent to the eye of a jrerson capable of managing the railway. Against Mr. Conyers they make a charge of incapacity —that, however well he may discharge the duties appertaining to a subordinate position, he possesses insufficient administrative ability for the position of Railway Commissioner he now occupies, and they recommend his removal. They further accuse him of, having a pecuniary interest in a large company doing a verygreat aniount of contracting business with the railway, and this connection, they say, cannot fail to militate against Govern-: ment’s chance in the market, when they ask for tenders for stores, Altogether they denounce the management as wasteful in the highest degree, and recommend a sweeping elimination of highly paid but really, useless officers, and others that could very well be spared. Notably do
they refer to a u manager ” on the Nelson line, at L4OO a year, where only twenty miles of line are open, and two trains run per day. A gentleman in Dunedin has L6OO a year for telling a fully qualified foreman in the locomotive departmentthat he has to repair such damages as the engines may have suffered—the L6OO a' year man having no training for the work he is called on to perform. There are sixteen different kinds of engines in use, and this variety of stock causes inconvenience and cost. Recommending a general reduction in salaries of 12|- per cent as a rule all round, but not necessarily without exception, the Commissioners think L 52,000 per annum could at once be saved. The Commissioners are not nearly so severe on the lines in the North Island, but they_ too obtain a share of adverse criticism and all over the colony instances of gross blundering and costly mismanagement have beeen made apparent to the Commission. The union of the postal and telegraph departments are recommended. There are too many policemen attending the horses and carriages of officers, and altogether the gaol and police services are too costly, inasmuch as prisons exist where they are not required. In one case, at Arrowtown, they have one prisoner about two days in the month, and the cost of looking after him is £2,833 los per annum. It is impossible in our limited space to give more than a very partial summary of the report, but enough has been given to show that the Civil Service has been reported on by men who are not afraid to speak what they think, and are painfully aware of the existence of gross abuses and wanton extravagance in the management of our public business.
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