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it is economical, safe, and acceptable to the worthy class of citizens for whose benefit it was derised.
Question 1. “How many pensioners do you pay and how often ?”
Answer. The number on the rolls of this agency at the last summing up was 10,250. The present number will vot vary much from that. Payments are made quarterly, commencing on the 4th days of March, June, September, and December in each year. The number of separate payments, including commutation for artificial limbs and examining-surgeons' fees, is about 41,500 annually.
Questien 2. “How much do you pay them at each payment, in the aggregate ?”
Answer. I have only paid three full quarters, June, September, and December, and can only give my experience since the 1st of May, 1873, at which time I entered upon my duties. The average amount of each of the above quarterly payments is $313,000; giving a total for tbe three payments of $940,000 nearly; or, at the same rate, $1,253,000 aunnally,
Question 3. “How much do yeu, on an average, pay with drafts ?”
Answer. All payments, without exception, are made by drafts, or rather by official checks, drawn on designated United States depositories of public money-the First National Bank of Indianapolis, the Indiana polis National Bank, and the Third National Bank of New York City
- for which duly executed vouchers are in all cases taken and forwarded monthly to the proper accounting officers of the Treasury for examination and settlement. No currency is handled by me, nor is any mones drawn or transferred under any circumstances except as above stated.
Question 4. “Is there any saving of time, labor, &c., in the method of paying by drafts; if so, how is it ?"
Answer. Yes; as between the plan of paying in checks and paying in currency there is a saving of time and expense to the pensioners, and of time and labor to the agent, as I will endeavor to explain.
When a quarterly payment is due the pensioner forwards a duly executed voucher, which has been previously filled out and sent to him through the mail by the agent; it is carefully examined and compared with the records, and, if found correct, a check is drawn for the full amount due, with as little delay as possible; the same is properly regis. tered on the depository cash-book, noted on the pension-roll, and transmitted to the pensioner's address, with another voucher ready to be exe cuted for the next quarterly payment. This is repeated at each subsequent payment, without expense to the pensioner, he being subjected to no outlay whatever, except a fee of fifteen cents to the magistrate for each oath or certificate, and three cents for return-postage. In new cases or “increase” cases the vouchers are prepared and sent to claimants in the order the certificates are received from the Pension Burean, so that pensioners living at a distance bave no need of visiting the agency at all, and they are saved the time and expense of travel, and the vexations and delays necessarily incident to making personal application for their money. The helplessness and decrepitude of many pensioners, by reason of their infirmities, arising from wounds, old age, &c., appeal strongly to a generous sympathy, and it is therefore peculiarly fitting that simple, easy, and sate means be provided for their payment, with out unnecessary cost or delay. The system is absolutely safe, expeditious, inexpensive, and satisfactory, generally, to the persons wbose best interests it is the aim of the Government to serve and protect. In these respects it is in striking contrast with the former plan of paying under powers of attorney. Now the pensioner is sure to get all he is lawfully entitled to, while under the old system attorneys almost invariably
charged for their services, and not infrequently (having the money in their own hands) helped themselves liberally, sometimes extravagantly, and occasionally appropriated the whole. No middlemen are now necessary, and the safeguards already explained have been found sufficient for each and every case. During the time I have acted as agent but few instances have occurred (only three or four) where checks have been lost in the mails, and the number wbich have failed to reach their proper destination by reason of misdirection, &c., is surprisingly small. Every check is made payable to the order of the pensioner, and up to the present time I bave not-beard of a single case of fraudulent collection by forged indorsement or otherwise.
There are other pensioners, however, to whom the above plan of pay. meut does not apply: those who make personal application at the agency for their checks, as, for instance, those who reside in or near the city of Indianapolis. Their vouchers having been prepared in advance, are executed in presence of the agent, who takes the necessary proofs without charge, and then delivers the checks directly to the persons entitled thereto. About one thousand are paid in this way each quarter, principally residents of Marion County, requiring, usually, the whole attention of the agent and clerks for the first week of the quarter. Much more time is consumed in making these payments than payments through the mails. In widows' and guardians' cases the testimony of witnesses must be taken; all signatures inust be attested; duplicate receipts signed, the officer's jurat affixed, &c., and then the pensioner must wait until his check can be made out, signed, and entered upon the records. At least three payments can be made on “ mail-vouchers” to one at the office counter.
Question. * How many clerks do you have or need ?"
Answer. I have six clerks, and need that number for the prompt and accurate dispatch of business. During the first month in each quarter I could advantageously use one or two more if I had room for them; besides, I give my own personal attention to the business of the agency in all its details. Payments really extend throughout the year, but it is only during the first four or five weeks, at the beginning of a quarter, that the pressure is great. After that all delayed work is brought up, vouchers are systematically arranged and entered upon abstracts for audit, and the work of preparing the vouchers is attended to in time for the next payments. Since I entered upon duty in May last, a complete set of new, enlarged, and improved pension-roll books have been completed at heavy personal cost, to take the place of the old and imperfect ones, which bad become defaced and badly worn from long use. A daily register of receipts, disbursements and balances in each depository has been kept up, and the date of payment of each check noted thereon. This register, I am inforined, is a new feature in pension-agencies, and although it involves a great deal of patient labor to keep it written up, I find it invaluable. The correspondence is quite extensive and receives prompt attention. The clerks average about nine hours of labor daily, and in the winter season are red to work at ight. The business in all its intricate details requires the closest attention, and, therefore, ovly competent and skiliful clerks can be employed.
Cost and expenses of the agency.—This agency ranks as the fourth in size in the United States. Bond, $650,000. The agent is paid by salary, $4,000, and by a fee of 30 cents as full compensation for all service, including postage for each voucher prepared and paid by him, which salary and fees are paid by the United States. The fees for the year are estimated at $10,500, making for salary and fees $14,500, or about one and one-sixth per cent. on $1,253,000 disbursed.
It must be borne in mind that the whole expenses of the agency for rent of office, fuel, lights, clerk-bire, postage on vouchers, furuiture, and incidental outlays are paid by the agent. These items for the year I estimate will amount to $8,000, which deducted from the total amount received from salary and fees, leaves the agent the sum of $6,500 as his net compensation for the year; being about one-half of one per cent. on $1,253,000 disbursed.
My postage bills for three payments, covering a period of ten months, amounted to $1,080, of which I am only entitled to $308.15 from the Government, the balance being borne by myself, as all other expenses are except records and stationery, and paid out of my salary and fees, as before stated.
In the testimony of Adjutant-General Townsend, on page 40, sixth line from the bottom, for the word “commutation” read “ hire;" and on page 41, third line from the top, after the word "yes" insert the words " forage in kind."
On page 27, second line from the bottom, in a reinark made by General Hawley, of Connecticut, for “ 40,000” read “ 2,000.”
On page 234, bottom line, for "each of these men sares," read “ twenty of these men sare each."
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