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T/ie High Cost ^Government

Why Your Tax Dollar Buys only Seventy Cents
Worth of Service: How to Get More for It

By R. E. COULSON Illustrated with Charts, Tables and Diagrams

THOUSANDS of persons know something of the business of the Government, but no man living comprehends fully what the Government of the United States includes, how it is organized, or what are its activities. The Government has never been described in such a manner as to lay the foundations needed for technical judgment, or in such detail as to permit the consideration of its many problems in their relations to each other

"A vast administrative mechanism has been built up, not according to a carefully thoughtout plan, but step by step as exigencies present themselves. The result is a scheme of organization in which little conscious effort has been made to integrate the parts into a systematic whole, so that the duty to be performed will be most advantageously assigned, unnecessary work prevented, and duplications and overlapping eliminated.

"How work shall be performed, what shall be the business practices and procedure followed, where responsibility shall be located, have been determined as specific problems have come up and not in response to an organized effort. As a result, the widest diversity of law, regulation

and practice is in evidence

Only in exceptional cases have successful efforts been made to standardize practice and procedure, thus to obtain increased economy and efficiency."

Reading this summary by the Economy and Efficiency Commission of the conditions behind the Niagara of lost motion and wasted effort at Washington, every business man will sense the possibilities of saving millions of tax dollars for the building of new services contributing to the

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public good. Because the functions carried on by the Government parallel nearly all the functions of everyday business, the man of vision will see an opportunity to work out principles of business practice which may be applied in every office, factory and store. For every tax dollar saved at Washington, such standards might save one hundred dollars for the business men of the country.

The vast totals of Government operations, if analyzed and classified, might easily make possible the securing of averages which would form a basis for the establishment of business standards. Just as the Department of Agriculture issues bulletins to farmers, so the Department of Commerce might issue bulletins to business men, taking up both individual cases of business success and broad principles of business policy based on the working out of methods in the business mechanism of the Government. Sections of this gigantic task were undertaken by the Commission. They found the administrative machinery and business methods of the Government expanding haphazardly with the growth of the country, yet clinging with curious persistency to ways that have been abandoned and devices that have been scrapped in efficient private enterprise. This in face of the fact that the Government spends more than one billion dollars a year, handles over five billion dollars in monetary transactions every

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CONCENTRATION of acJirities is ^ a first principle in efficient operation. This map shows how the various bureaus of the War Department are scattered about in fourteen different buildings in Washington. The black squares indicate these locations. The farthest (in the lower right-hand corner) is more than a mile from the War, .Vary and State building, pictured in the panel abotc

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year, and mixes in many millions of acts of business every year, from selling a one-cent postage stamp in an Alaskan wilderness to buying a ten-million-dollar battleship on the Atlantic coast.

In approaching the task of re-organizing this administrative machine, the Commission took the same point of view that any business man may take, and many of its reports are as suggestive of ideas for the average business as the bulletins of the Department of Agriculture are suggestive for the farmer. The Commission found the work dividing into two jobs for immediate approach. One of the tasks was stupendous—so big it would take years—perhaps a generation—to complete. This job—a detailed study of the whole mechanism of the Government, a listing of all its activities and a consideration of all its parts, was begun. The foundation studies of the Commission will undoubtedly form the basis for whatever work a like body may attempt on the same task in the future. A second job into which this work was separated was a straight-away "getting down to brass tacks." They massed and directed experts at certain points, showed the waste in efficiency at those points and put to the front written, specific recommendations of methods which would stop the waste and cut down the inefficiency.

Where the Government Might Save

I | In Efficiency

of Employees


In Office Management

By Analysis of Work Done

By Classifying Functions

By Cutting Needless Operations

By Standardizing Methods

By Proper Routing of Work

By Fixing Filing Standards

By Training and Shifting
By Work Tests and Records
By Promotion of the Efficient
By Reduction of the Inefficient
By Lighting and Ventilation

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I | In Purchasing
Materials, etc.

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I I In Eliminating

Double Service

By Consolidation of Bureaus Providing Similar Services

By Consolidation of Testing and Experimental Laboratories

By Avoiding Duplicate Handling of Same Materials or Products

Not all departments were found wasteful. Sorting out the broadly recognizable inefficient work disclosed certain efficient departments. Here the possibilities of the Commission's work in correlating interdepartmental functions is evident.

Just as in the analysis of any business, certain departments and functions will be found working efficiently, so, in the Government, what may be called approximate laboratory standards have been worked out in certain departments. Take the Reclamation Service. Of this Service, the Chairman of the Commission says: "The best cost accounts kept by an operative service in the Government are to be found in the Reclamation Service. There they tell every month the horse-day cost of every corral, and the man-day cost of each mess; the cement-yard cost of every lining of every tunnel; the gasoline cost of every motorcycle, and so on."



T^KFICIENCY records of 190 employees in the National Bank Redemption 1J Agency of the Treasury Department were kept during May, l»li. The employees count, prove and sort paper money, "work which can be measured absolutely as to quantity and quality." 4fl employees earned more than their s;tl;iries. one earned his pay exactly and 113 earned less than their salaries. Based on this, a table showing annual salaries, annual value of services, and the difference between salaries and services, was arranged. Four groups from this record follow:


If the entire Government had a plan and methods such as obtained in the Reclamation Service or in any efficient private business, certain curious situations would not arise so frequently. As an instance, the combined statement of receipts and disbursements of the Government for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1910, a report required by law and purporting to give an analysis of the expenditures of the Government as a whole, was commented upon by the President as follows: "This shows that the expenditures for salaries for the year 1010 were 132 millions out of 9o0 millions. As a matter of fact, the expenditures for personal services during that year were more nearly 400 millions, as we have just learned by the inquiry now in progress." That is to say, the Economy and Efficiency Commission demonstrated that the Government has yet to learn the essential lesson of how to keep a pay roll.

Though the Commission hoisted a high banner and flung a tremendousproject on

'"THAT efficiency is too often tin own reieard in the government service is suggested by the results of the work tests which the Commission tabulates in typical groups here. Notice thai the seven least efficient emplnyees listed here are all' in the higher-salaried classes. The Treasury Department above

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/~\NE specific cost-cutting ^" inquiry covered the wrapping and mailing of government publications. Analysis shoved that almost three dollars in every four could be saved. These changes have been ordered. The panel above the taJAc shows the new buiuling of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

the plan board of the Government,
it nevertheless made a straight line for
definite, immediate, paying results. The
possibility of the publication of detailed
cost analyses in different manufacturing
enterprises is suggested by one of the
investigations into the cost of handling
the Government's publications.
A remarkable sweep-out of wastes,

duplications and in

efficiencies, saving $242,713 a year, was shown to be practicable in the distribution of government publications. After the Government Printing Office finished printing and binding an edition, the books were wrapped, packed and hauled to the department which had ordered the printing. The department, as it received orders for the books, then packed and hauled them to the post office.' The comment was made, "If two factories were competing against each other and one of them did as much extra packing and hauling as the Government does with its publications, that factory would go

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Wrapping at Govt. Printing Office for de-
livery to depts. and cost of materials. ..

Expenses of Govt. Printing Office in mak-
ing hauls to departments

Expenses of departments in making hauls
to and from Govt. Printing Office

Rental value of space occupied—

(a) Rented buildings $10,064

(b) Govt, owned buildings 4,833

Labor and material cost in making sten-
cils and changes, spoilage, and so on...

Cost of addressing lists

Cost of wrapping publications or placing
in envelopes

Receiving, storing, handling sacks and
shipping publications

Cost of materials, envelopes, paper, twine,
ink, and so on

Keeping stock records, other clerical work

Conveying publications from place ad-
dressed to place mailed

Messengers, watchmen, charwomen, la-
borers and other labor

Heat, light, power, ice, janitor supplies,
telephone, and other incidentals

Administration, supervision, other "over-

P. O. cost, transporting publications from
incoming wagons to distributing rooms.

P. 0. cost cancelling franks on publications

Cost of distributing and routing publica-
tions in department and P. O

Cost to P. 0. for transferring publications
from distributing rooms to wagons....

Cost to P. O. for transferring from P. O.
to Union station

Cost to P. 0. for depreciation of P. O.
equipment and cost of facing slips,
twine, and so on

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