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THE CIVIL SERVICE., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 80, 3 April 1909
THE CIVIL SERVICE.
:; : REORGANISATION SCHEME. TW2KTY-OHTE DEPARTMENTS ABSOSBED. SAVING OP A-QTIARTER MU.ZJON. <Bjr Telegraph.—Special to "Star.") WELLINGTON, Friday. The Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Ward, speaking at the Upper Hutt .gave an important and comprehensive statement of the reorganisation now being carried out in the public service. Sir Joseph Ward said: As is generally known the-Government has been busily engaged for some time in reviewing the position of the public services throughout th& Dominion, and it is my duty to-night to indicate some important charges ■which it is- intended to effect at sa early date. I should like, in the first place, to express my strong conviction of the faithful services rendered by the officers and staffs of the various Departments throughout the country. There must, in large services, necessarily be some -with whom, from time to time, fault can be found. Yet, on the whole, the country has reason to be proud of its public services, and anything , affecting them requires to be approached with care, with judgment, and with a natural desire to inflict as little hardship as possible. I wish, also, to acknowledge publicly, on behalf of the people of the Dominion, my appreciation ■of the VK Lnable -work done by the officers tcho are being retired' on pension, or superannuation, as the case may be. They include some of the oldest of our I Civil Servants, -who are now going into private life after a long, strenuous, and Sigtly honourable caTeer. They are going without a. blemish on their reputation, carrying with them the goodwill of all classes. One of the happiest fea- , tures of the departure of these tried servants will long be remembered by mc refer to the visits I ha-ve received from many of them in the Cabinet room during the last few days. I cannot, after ma ay years of official association with them, feel other than regret for "the cause—advancing age—which, is primarily responsible for some of the more important changes now being carried -put. Apart from-the retirements brought about by the age limit—6o to 65 years and over—there are other important circumstances which call for readjustment and reorganisation to a considerable extent. In many of the De_partments it is easy, of course, for critics without any responsibility to declare that the Departments have been overmanned. During a long period of prosperity a tendency in that direction naturally exists, and practical men recognise it as virtually unavoidable. The rapidly-increasing " business in the various branches of the public service «alls, from, -time to. time, for .an increase in the number of employees to meet the extension caused by the growth of trade. This applies especially to some - of fhe. newer, .Departments,.. Tlje time arrived when the public demand has ""been to' alarge' extent supplied, ■if not . over-supplied. For . instance,■ the con-,-^eblida.ted"revenue in 1903^4ttbs .;£ 7,021,-- ---" SB6» and. in 1907-S it was £$,055,946 Tvithout any increase in ; taxation, because, it must be remembered that the 25 per cent, increase m_the graduated land tax - imposed -last will come into force this year for the first time. - - -Our revenue- during - a.-period of five years thus increased by over two millions and-our.-expenditure.during the tame -period - rose -from_ £6,434,281 to '£ 8,213,9(35, an increase in round figures of £1,500,000/' and the excess of revenue over expenditure for 1907-8 was !£841,951. Since then the effect of peri:, missions ~at has amounted to about £500,000, so that it is obvious, seeing the large remissions of taxation that hay? been made, that we cannot expect to have such a large balance available for- contribution to the Public Works Fund as in the past. As to the year 190S-9, the whole of the figures are not yet available, but we must necessa-r- - Dy expett a largely-reduced balance to . carry forward to the coming year. .In - view -of the fact that we have a reduced revenue, caused, largely /by. remissions of taxation, and. that we have paid during the past year -£800,000 out of revenue to the Public Worts Fund, our balance must necessarily be smaller, but I am glad to say that, as far as I can judge at present, the estimate given by mc in my Budget last session will be Tβalised.- As I propose to speak on "financial matters and -policy questions when I am in possession of the fuller results of the financial year, I will say nothing further under this head at present. REDUCING -THE DEPARTMENTS. Why I feel that it is necessary that we should examine the general position of tie public services is largely due to the fact that our expenditure in. the past year has risen, considerably, and that there is a known shrinkage in. the revenue. Therefore, it is desirable, in my opinion,, to see that the basis of our financial structure,' public and private, should ha erected and maintained as strong as it was prior to any remissions of taxation, or the operation of any sther causes that may temporarily interfere with the volume of trade, especially through the Customs. In dealing with the public services, the first thing to be kept in mind is efficiency, so that the requirements of the people may be fully and reasonably met; and, secondly, that in any reorganisation there should not be exacted from any individual more than a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. TKe Government is entitled to ask Jor tills much on behalf of tlie people of the Dominion. There are at present B7 separate administrative departments, including the Legislative 3>epa.rtmeiit. Ibis is the number we propose to reduce to 16 by the amalgamation of certain departments "with others. Sy giving effect to a proposal of this kind, the expenditure will be reduced by the salaries of those officers whose services will no longer be required. These in most cases are senior officers. The total of the whole salaries will represent a considerable saving. There will of necessity be adjustments, which, will call for the retirement of others; but I may say that this is not intended to be done ihurriediy or rashly. On completion o» the amalgamation of the various departments, a careful and thorough review of the requirements of the combined departments will be carried out by theli "headSj fl-pd reported to "tne Government. JThis will reduce -expenditure- i>v aubstl- -■ -tuting ofi set-ofsecretaries, accountants, - phief clerks, record, clerks, and officers of that kind, to perform the duties which are now carried out by a larger number pf separate staffs." The larger depart-ments--will, .then he-able, any great' accession of ~<slerlcSj-JfcQ""caTi2 out : -£h.elr. increased duties*. , ',"- .
„.. _ .THE., AfITATfiAIIATIONS The following changes will be brought about:— The Legislative Department, which is attached to Parliament, will remain as -at present. The Treasury Department will absorb the Friendly Societies Department, of ■which. Mr. R. E. Hayes is registrar and 'Mr. A. Travers is actuary. These gentlemen will join the Treasury Department. The Tost and Telegraph Department will absorb the Old Age Pensions Department, and also the Stamps Department, Mr. J. E. Ewan Smith going over to the Post and Telegraph Department as Commissioner of Old Age Pensions. Mr. G. C. Fache, chief clerk for Old Age Pensions, will also join the Postal Department, as well as other officers, who will also he absorbed.
The Justice Department will absorb the Prisons, Police, and Deeds Department, as well as Deeds Registry Department. These will be controlled by the Minister ;of Justice, • who will also adininis•ter the Crown Law Department and law drafting office. It is intended that the legal work ,as far as possible, shall be carried out by the AttorneyGeneral's Department, and in this respect a saving of thousands of pounds a year will be assured .without loss of efficiency. District Courts will be abolished, and suitable magistrates will be offered to the judges. The Department of Internal Affairs will absorb the Printing and Stationery Departments, the Electoral Department, and the Museum, all of which will be under one under-seeretary. The Registrar-Gen-eralship, vacated by the retirement of Mr. yon Dadelszen, will, be filled by the appointment of Mr. E. W. Mansfield, -who will continue to be chief electoral officer. The Marine Department and the Inspection of Machinery Department will be amalgamated with the Customs Department under the name of the Customs and Marine Department. The Stamps and Deeds Department will be divided, and the deeds branch will be attached to the Department of Justice. Mr. Corliss, officer in charge of the Stamps and Deeds Department, Dunedin, will be transferred to. the Postal Department at Wellington; and will carry out the duties attached "to th* stamps branch of that Department. The separate premises occupied by the Old Age Pensions Department throughout the Dominion will be abandoned, and this will effect a considerable saving in rents and other charges. WORKS, MINES ANDROADS. The Public Works Department will be bnown in future as the Public Works Mines and Roads Department, and the separate Departments of Klines and Roads will not be continued. Mr. Blow, Under-Secretary for Public Works, will have control of the three branches. Roads will be still under the administra.tion of the Minister for Roads, as at pres.ent, but the Department, as I have said-, will be controlled by the Under-Secreta-ry for Public Works. In other words, llr. Hursthouse's place will not be filled. Public Works and Mines will bs under one Minister, as at present. The geological survey vrill still be attached to the Mines 'Department. • NATIVE DEPARTMENT CHANGES. In the Native Department considerable changes-will be made. The three judges who are re tiring--will-not-ier replaced, &cd the assessment work, which now eniaSis heavy travelling expenses, will be carried out at the head office. The Native Appellate- Court ia to be abolished, and the ■■ Chief Judge's • office. There will be other important changes, and a large reduction -of-.-obst--will be secured here. Again the saving will be substantial. IMMIGRATION. The Immigration Department will be amalgamated with the Department of Labour. - The latter having branches in many different towns, should be able to render effective and useful services in connection with the all-important branch of immigration, which requires very close and careful administration; such co-operation has already existed to some extent, but I think it may usefully be still further developed. - LAND SETTLEMENT. The Department "Of Lands for Settlement and the Lands Purchase Department will be amalgamated with the Lands and Survey Department, Mr. J. D. Eitehie becoming chairman and inspector for the Land Purchase. Boa»rd. This arrangement will effect substantial economy, and by degrees the practice of personal visits by all the members of the Land Purchase Board to estates should be abolished with safety to the general interests of the Dominion, more use being made of the different branches of the Lands and Survey Department. COMMERCE AND TOURIST — A TWrrNrTKTTt A TTON The Industries and Commerce Department and Tourist Department will be amalgamated with the Department of Agriculture, and the Hon. T. Mackenzie will have ministerial charge of the combined Departments. This amalgamation also will result in considerable economy, but before it is carried into effect a complete reorganisation of the Agricultural Department will be carried out. Considerable changes will be made in the Tourist Department when merged in that of Agriculture. The construction of so-called "tourist roade" will not be done iby, that Department," and the tourist houses in different parts of the Dominion will not be continued under Government management, ' tout", will be placed under proper conditions. It would be a mistake not to have suitable provision for the large section of the travelling public, New Zealanders included, who visit the various resorts throughout the country, and every effort will be made to have this work continued on practical lines. These residential houses have (performed a valuable function in the past, and at Mount Cook, for instance, the accommodation is quite inadequate. It is therefore intended to provide sleeping accommodation for largely increaeed numbers, so that -whoever may. hereafter take the premises will be able to fully profit from the increasing traffic. The tourist branch of the Agricultural Department will be administered, I feel certain, in a way that will be valuable to the country. LAND AND INCOME TAX. In regard to the Land and Income Tax ■Department, it is not quite definitely settled what the nature of the readjustments -will -be. The Fire Insurance Department will probably be attached to that Department,.as. well as the examination of deceased persons' estates, which will be placed under the Commissioner of Taxes, as necessarily the question of taxation in connection with this branch should properly be undea- the control of tlie Taxing Commissioner. The question, oi keeping - the Valuation Department separate, or allying it with some other, is not definitely decided, but there will bo a material alteration in the system of, valuation. As the result of close investigation, I am satisfied that the camying out of valuations for local pnblio. Jjodiee 'by-the Valttation Department should, ceaeor-ithe work- being jm-
dertaken-by .local bodies themselves. The Valuation Department should continue to carry on the work for general taxation, and for the purposes of other Departments of the State. This policy would effect a. substantial reduction in the cost, of the Departments. It will be- necessary, so as to prevent the reversion, to the practice of some local bodies of employing their own officers to make valuations, to pass legislation providing that none 'but valuers liolding certificates from the Valuation Department may be employed by the local bodies. ' DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. The amalgamation of the Public Health,' the Hospitals' and Charitable Aid, and the Mental Hospitals Departments, is also to be effected. The Public Health Department has performed most valuable services, and we must not make it ineffective. Its organisation is now, however, complete enough to enable a less expensive but equally effective service to be installed. The merging will result in considerable economy. AGRICULTURAL DEPARTMENT. The Department of Agriculture, as I have already stated, will absorb certain others, but it will also itself be largely remodelled. It has not yet been decided who will succeed Mr. Ritchie as Secretary for Agriculture, as he will occupy his present position for some time longer. The whole matter of the reorganisation of this important Department is being tarefully gone into, and in the course ot a week or two I expect to be in a position to make an announcement. I feel convinced, however, that there is overlapping in several directions. There are too many divisions, and these divisions, although intended to secure effective control, have, in some instances, produced the very opposite effect. I hope finally that the number will be reduced to three or four at the most, and the responsible heads of those divisions should be in personal touch with the Minister, the secretary of the Department having control of the official and administrative side. The Agricultural Department is one that has very great interests to deal with, and a well-directed expenditure of money will greatly assist the producing interests of the country. Efficiency in every possible way is .desirable, but 1 am persuaded that it can be obtained at a less cost, and with a great deal less friction and better results to the country than Is the case at present. In saying this I wish it to be understood that I am not casting the slightest reflection on the officers of this or any other Department, whose ability and integrity are well known, but it is the clogging or overlapping that has gradually crept into the Department that, in my judgment, requires to be removed in favour of a better system. EFFECT OF THE ALTERATIONS. The alterations which I have outlined will not only reduce the number of Departments to 10, but the number of classes on the Consolidated Fund Estimates -will reduced to 16 instead of 26, as at present. There will be one chief clerk for each administrative head, instead of a chief clerk in every small Department, as nt present. Correspondence and book-keeping will be conducted at the head office instead of each branch having a staff of its own. For these purposes the duplication of- book-keeping, carried out by some Departments, while the work is being done on similar lines by the Treasury, will gradually cease, a»I here again much money will be saved. The larger Departments will, however, continue to keep their own books. In connection with the various Departments there will be certain professional heads, such as the Public Works engineer and the SurveyorGeneral. Arrangements of a similar character will, no doubt, have to be made in some of the amalgamated Departments. Until these proposals are carried into effect no new appointments or transfers will be made. This is in order that if required the junior officers of the amalgamated Departments may be absorbed. The Civil Service junior list has been closed for the last few weeks and will be closed for a while longer. Married" men will have the preference, and those who may for a time'be required to give up their positions will be put on record for reinstatement as circumstances permit, so that as far as possible hardships and injustices will be avoided. TRAVELLING ALLOWANCES. It is also intended that the fixed daily travelling allowances which have been paid shall be discontinued and actual expenses, with a limit on similar lines to that of the present allowances, will be substituted, and vouchers will have to be provided. This decision i s due to the fact that travelling expenses have gradually been mounting up, until they have attained a sum much beyond what on examination, appears to be required, or to be fair to the country as a whole. This change will save a considerable amount of money. TELEPHONES. The cost of telephones in the public services throughout the Dominion is running into a fairly large sum, and it is intended that the heads of the depart.ments shall review the position, and where telephones are required for the public services they will be supplied, the department requiring the same to pay for them. In connection with the telephone service, the free list is to be abolished. Hospitals and charitable institutions, a large number of which are now on the free list; will be required to pay half rates and when new lines are required for such institutions they will be called upon to pay the whole cost and half fees. This is necessary on account of the numerous applications that are incessantly being received for free telephones for all kinds of purposes. Here, again, there will be a substantial saving. In connection with the Prisons Department, there will Be a transfer from the smaller prisons, some of which are costing sums altogether out of proportion to the cost of the larger ones. These are to be abolished, and the surplus accommodation for prisoners will thus be filled. SAVING OF £250,000 A YEAR. The economies which I have outlined, including other changes which will be submitted to Parliament, will effect a total saving exceeding a quarter of a million sterling, and this, so far as the portion affecting the public service is concerned, without impairing their efficiency or inconveniencing the public in any way.
THE CIVIL SERVICE., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 80, 3 April 1909
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