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expenditures; and has not properly supervised the operations of the division of which he has charge. We give to him the credit of some improvement in the system of accounts immediately under his personal care.
A. S. Yantix, stationery clerk.-Mr. Yantis's methods bave been careless, bis systein lax, and he has failed to exercise proper care in the custody of valuable supplies. Two members of your commission have been wofficially informed by Mr. Yantis that he contemplates tendering bis resignation at the close of the present month to engage in private business. We have thought it proper to take cognizance of these personal communications, and, inasmuch as the performance of the work assigned to bim requires a somewhat thorough knowledge of the various articles of stationery furnished, and of the manner in which supplies are bought, we recommend that a successor to Mr. Yantis be selected at once and placed under his tutelage, so that, when the time arrives for bim to take charge, he will bave acquired a tolerably accurate conception of his duties. It may be remarked that this recommendation will only be practicable in case Mr. Yautis's successor be selected from among the present employés of the Department.
P.J. Payn assists Mr. Yantis in the stationery branch, makes out the abstracts of stationery furnished to the Bureaus of the Department, and keeps the records of supplies received and disbursed. He also keeps the record of requisitions from the Public Printer. We ascertained in the course of our investigation that he was not always accurate in his book-keeping, and from what we have observed we think that bad feeling exists between Mr. Yantis and Mr. Payn, which does not tend to improve the character of the work done in this branch. It has already been stated that deliveries from contractors of stationery for first and second class post-offices for the current fiscal year had not yet been recorded at date of commencement of our examination.
We have the honor to recommend :
(1) That three clerks in the division of post-office supplies be designated as bookkeepers; one to have charge of the records of wrapping paper, twine, balances and marking and rating stamps issued to postmasters; another to keep the records of stationery issued to bureaus of this Department, and a third the records of stationery issued to first and second class post-offices.
(2) That the record or account books to be kept by these clerks be in form like the sample sheets herewith submitted ; that the entries therein be posted up daily, balanced at the close of each quarter, and verified by an actual count of stock on hand; and that a balance-sheet showing the gross quantities of stock of all kinds received and issued be submitted to the First Assistant Postmaster-General at the close of each quarter.
(3) It is suggested that for the present accounts be opened in the record books of wrapping paper, twine, balances and postmarking stamps with Presidential post-offices only, and with the several superintendents of railway mail service, and that until such time as it may be found practicable to open such accounts with all post offices, supplies of these articles furnished to fourth-class oilices be recorded in the order in which they are issued in a book like that now kept, and the quantities aggregated at the close of each quarter.
(4) That one of the clerks of the division be designated the store. keeper, who shall represent the Postmaster General, and whose accounts shall serve as a check upon those of the division. With each shipment of goods the contractor should be required to forward an invoice in duplicate; and on receipt of the articles at the Department they must be carefully inspected by both the chief of the division and storekeeper, and a certificate of such inspection and delivery must be written or printed upon the invoice and signed by both. The goods should then be delivered into the custody of the storekeeper, who should charge himself, in an account kept by him for the purpose, with the gross quantities thereof.
When supplies are needed for current issues to postmasters, requisitions for limited quantities should be made upon the storekeeper by the chief of the division, who should be required to receipt for the goods upon their delivery to bim, and the storekeeper should cr dit himself with the quantities shown in such receipts. When very large quantities are called for the requisition on the storekeeper from the chief of the division should specify the name of the post office, or of the division of the railway mail service requiring them. Orders upon the contractors shoulu be consecutively numbered, and a corresponding number should be entered upon the duplicate inyoices and upon the bills, which should be rendered in duplicate.
No bill should be approved by the Postmaster-General for payment unless it bear the certificate of the receipt and inspection of the goods signed by both the chief of the division and the storekeeper. The storekeeper, as well. as the chief of the division, should be required to balance his books quarterly, and to verify the balances by an actual count of stock. He should likewise submit to the First Assistant Postmaster-General at the close of each quarter a statement showing the total quantities of stock received by him, and the quantities issued to the chief of the division.
(5) The form of account book kept with the Public Printer should be modified by the addition of parallel columns, so as to show the cost of printing and binding for each Bureau of the Department, and the separate record of public printing and binding now kept for each Bureau should be dispensed with. The correctness of the bills rendered by the Public Printer (which are usually for gross sums) should be verified by aggregating the amounts of the itemized bills received from him each month.
(6) It has heretofore been the practice of the chief of this division to sign in his own name most of the communications relating to the business under his charge, and it has never been his practice to preserve copies thereof or to have them recorded. The want of this record has, in a great measure, increased the labors of investigation and left in mystery many things that might otherwise have been explained.
All oficial communications emanating from the division, except circulars with printed signature, should be signed by the First Assistant Postmaster General and press-copied. In the term “official communications” should be included requisitions upon the Public Priuter, orders upon contractors, orders for the purchase of goods in the open market, answers to communications from postinasters, and official correspondence in general.
It would be desirable to curtail the use of reference-slips, and to employ circulars with printeil signatures for replies to postmasters concerning minor matters of detail. We found the use of reference-slips (signed by the chief of division in lien of letters or circulars signed by the First Assistant Postmaster: General) too prevalent a mode of communication on official business. All orders inpon contractors and orders for purchase of goods in open market should be approved by the Postmaster General.
(7) The blank form for requisition for stationery used in the Department should be amended to conform to the specimen herewith submitted. (See Exhibit H.) It should be printed in copy-yielding ink, and a letter-press copy thereof should be taken in the division from which it emanates. A separate communication should be written in all cases where articles are desired which are not on the schedule of arti. cles under contract, and a detailed explanation should be made in such communication as to the necessity of the service which demands the immediate purchase of the articles.
(8) Heretofore it has not been the practice to send an invoice with supplies of stationery furnished to post-offices, nor has any receipt been required for such supplies. We recommend that an invoice, printed with copy-yielding ink, be filled up and press-copied and sent with every shipment of stationery, and the postmaster to whom the stationery is furnished be required to receipt therefor at the foot of the invoice and to return the latter to the Department. Upon the return of the receipt it should be checked with the entry in the ledger account of postmasters.
(9) The requisition forms used by postmasters in ordering supplies of twine, wrapping paper, blanks, and stationery should be provided with a column in which postmasters should be required to state the quantity of each article called for then on hand.
(10) The form of orders upon contractors may be like that now used, but all orders should be numbered consecutively, commencing anew with each fiscal year, and should be press-copied. The practice heretofore pursued of keeping a slip memorandum of partial shipments of goods from contractors, and of entering the aggregate amount of each order after the delivery thereof is completed, should be discontinued. Each contractor's ledger account should be inade a faithful record of all ship.ments received from him, whether partial or complete.
(11) Proposals should be accompanied by a bond, with sureties for a sufficient amount, conditioned for the bidder's entering into contract for furnishing the articles bid for and accepted. No such bond has heretofore been required. The proposal, bond, guaranty, and certificate should, for convenience, be printed upon one sheet like the accompanying specimen, marked Exbibit I.
(12) More care should be taken in stating in the specifications for the information of bidders) the estimated quantities of the several articles required. We observed that in past years there were wide variations, in many cases, between the estimated quantities and the quantities actually ordered. (13) Additional room is needed and should be provided for storing the stationery for use of post-offices; we suggest that the room immediately adjoining the hall-way-in the basement where this stationery is now stored—could be made available for this purpose.
(14) A semi-circular railing should be erected in the room in which the departmental stationery is kept, and unauthorized persons should be denied access within the railing. No stationery should be dispensed to applicants in person, but requisitions should be sent to the stationery room and the articles called for delivered by a messenger attached to that division. As at present- arranged, the stationery room affords ample opportunity for theft; and the clerks located therein are too frequently distracted from their labors by personal calls. Stationery should only be dispensed by a competent clerk, familiar with the articles and their uses; never by messengers or laborers.
(15) Articles of stationery received in good condition, but afterwards broken or spoiled, should be condemned by a committee and destroyed
or otherwise disposed of, and upon the report of such committee credit should be claimed by the chief of the division or by the storekeeper, as the case may be, for the articles condemned.
(16) The practice heretofore has been to destroy, after a very limited period, requisitions for supplies received from postmasters. Such requisitions should be carefully filed for purposes of reference and kept for a term of four years at least.
(17) We ascertained that it had been the custom of Mr. Rhodes to furnish to the contractors for scales a "penalty label” for their use in transmitting by mail scales ordered to be sent direct from the manufactory to the postmaster. Mr. Rhodes explained that such labels had been furnished only when the distance from the manufactory to the post-office of destination was greater than the distance from the manufactory to Washington. In like manner the contractors have been authorized to make deliveries of contract and other articles direct to postmasters, who would in some cases acknowledge receipt of such articles to the contractors, who would send such receipt to this Department, while in other cases a blank form of receipt would be forwarded to the postmaster from the division of post office supplies, and the postmaster would be notified at the foot of the receipt that the articles desired would be furnished direct from the contractors. The specifications to bidders require that all articles shall be delivered free of expense at the division of post-office supplies.
(18) We submit herewith amended schedules of articles of stationery containing such erasures and additions as, in our judgment, should be made) for the ensuing fiscal year (Exhibit J).
In addition to these modifications we respectfully suggest that there be added to the schedule for first and second class post offices a description of the account and record books most commonly used in such offices, and that a provision be inserted in the schedule and in each contract for such books, requiring the successful bidder to furnish all such new or modified books (not specially described) as may be required during the contract term, at prices not to exceed the contract prices for books of similar character, size, and quality.
From the large quantities issued of unheaded note paper, note envelopes without printing, and other articles obviously not prepared for official use, it would seem that such articles are purchased too largely and disbursed too indiscriminately. Respectfully submitted.
GEO. W. WELLS,
Committee. Hon. WM. F. VILAS,