Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 17. August 9, 1939
The case against the efficiency tests has been based mainly on the cruelty of forcing a civil servant to suffer exams. That argument is weak and I do not attempt to sustain it. A man who knows his job should have no difficulty with the tests, and if he does not know it, he should learn, if only to justify his position. It is beside the point if the process of learning involves "swotting."
Any real criticism must be based on the purpose of the tests which is. I assume, indicated in the title, Is an efficient civil servant merely one who knows several acts and sets of regulations, has read up the history and functions of his department, and who is proficient at indexing, precis writing and correspondence? I think not, A sound routine plodder should pass that test with ease but the tests are to select men for promotion to the higher grades from which administrative heads are recruited.
The efficient administrative officer must have the ability to see the functions of his department, himself, and his staff in the light of the best current thought on the functions of government and in relation to the policy of the Government of the day. He must have the ability so to organise and direct the work of his section or Department that those functions are carried out completely and efficiently. To perform his advisory function he must possess an informed, disciplined and inventive mind and the power of concise and lucid expression.
That the old system does not select the best men for these tasks may condemn it but does not necessarily justify the new system. The best men are urgently needed, but the efficiency tests in their present form give no guarantee that they will be found.—T.R.S.