The New International Encyclopædia/Merit System, The
MERIT SYSTEM, The. The merit system, as the name implies, looks toward the appointment of men to office because of their competency, and not because of their political opinions. The fitness of the candidate is determined by his ability to pass a written competitive examination, given by a commission of examiners. The answers submitted by candidates must be unsigned, so as to obviate the possibility of favoritism on the part of the examiners. A list is made of the successful candidates, arranged in the order of their merit as shown by the results of the examination. Appointments must be made from this eligible list in the order of rank unless good cause can be shown why one of higher rank should be set aside for one standing lower on the list. A common objection to the merit system is that it does not give an adequate test of a man's real capacity to administer the office to which he seeks appointment. This is in a measure true, though more and more the civil service examiners are coming to lay stress upon experience and practical knowledge. Inasmuch as the merit system makes it more difficult for the ordinary political heeler to secure lucrative offices because of his vote-getting ability, the svstem must be recognized as a power for good. Though it does not inevitably lead to the choice of the most competent, it does very effectually exclude the absolutely unfit — the political trickster and dealer in votes. See Civil-Service Reform.