CIVIL-SERVICE REFORM. In the most general sense, the adoption, by legislation or executive action, of rules for improving the civil service of the State by prescribing the quali fications of candidates for public office, and for the good behavior of public servants and their independence of external control. Speeifieally, and as commonly employed in the United States, the expression refers to the movement of the last hundred years in Great Britain and the United States for the elimination front the public ad ministration of the corrupting influences of party politics.
Owing to the power which has usually at tended the possession of public office and the lack of any effective supervision or criticism, public administration has in all stages of political development been affected with corruption and inefficiency and extra V a ga we. The various forms of autocratic government, which preceded the more popular governments of our day, furnished mi peculiarly favorable soil flu- the growth of these evils. (See CIVIL. ADMINISTRATION.) It was a disappointing result of the first effective appearance of government `by the people' in modern times, that it should not only have failed to correct these tendencies of the earlier ri.gitne, but should have intensified them and given them new and more enduring vitality. It is to the excessive and vicious development of the party system in its earlier stages that we owe this condition of affairs. unman nature is much the same under all forms of government; and it is, therefore, not to be wondered at that great party leaders, like Bolingbroke and Walpole, having great patronage at their command, shouldempluy it to consolidate their power or that of their party. The 'spoils system,' as it is called in the United States, had its inception with the real be ginning of popular government. in the reign of William Ill. William Ill, was himself a great administrator, and his first efforts were directed to a reform in the public service. But the only permanent 'reform' effected was the substitution of Parliament for the Crown as the source of office and official corruption. At the accession of Anne in 1702, the party system had enveloped the whole civil service of Great Britain. All of the offices of State and all employments under them, from the highest to the meanest, were the assets of the party in power and were available for party purposes. The results of the system were in the highest degree demoralizing to the public administration and to the public spirit of the nation. As has been well said of this period in England, "the partisan system of appointments and promotions aggravated the evils of Parlia mentary patronage, made administration costly and feeble, spread corruption from the depart ments to cities, boroughs, and elections, while it disgusted the better class of citizens, alarmed statesmen. and exasperated and debased all po
litical contests." Matters grew steadily worse through the early part of George IIL's hmgreign, the efforts of Rockingham, Burke, Pitt, and other patriots to stay the tide of corrupt practices being neutralized by the stubborn resistance of the King. The tide turned, however, with the coming in of the second Rockingham Ministry in 1782, and when George 1V. ascended the throne. in 1820. though the partisan system still existed, its worst abuses had been driven cut by the growth of a better public sentiment. The great Reform movement which culminated in 1832 had no direct concern with adminis tration and produced no immediate effect on the movement for administrative reform; but the 'merit system' of selecting candidates for office was tried on a small scale as early as 1S34, and slowly but steadily made its way. It was probably the demoralization of the Indian service which opened the eyes of British statesmen to the necessity for more sweeping; methods of reform; and after securing the passage of the India Act of 1853. the Govern ment of Lord Aberdeen appointed a manumission. consisting of Sir Staffii•d Northeote and Sir Charles Trevelyan, to make an inquiry into the condition of the public service and to suggest im provements therein. This commission having in the same year repined. recommending a uniform system of competitive examinations to test per sona] fitness for the public service, in IS55 such a system was established by the of Lord Palmerston, through an order of the Queen in Council. ' This sweeping reform, which has proved to be as permanent as it hasheen salutary, was brought about by the wisdom and experience of the administration. in the face of a hostile majority in Parliament and an apathetic public opinion. The beneficial effects of the new sys tem quickly became apparent, and in the ex tremely short space of four years had roused a strong public sentiment in its favor and won the unanimous support of Parliament, and in 1859 was fully legalized by statute. The last step in the reform of the British civil service was taken in 1870, when the competition, previously somewhat restricted, was thrown open by an Order in Council to all persons of requisite age, health, and character.