National Geographic : 1903 Jan
THE U. S. COAST AN Suggestions for changing its status were again made, and its condition of apparent unstable equilibrium prompted Congress to take the matter in hand. Reference has already been made to a committee which was appointed by act of Congress in 1843 to reorganize the Survey. It consisted of six commis sioned officers-that is, two officers of the Navy, four of the U. S. Topograph ical Engineers, all experienced in the work of the Survey, and three civilians. The act of Congress provided that the work should be conducted in accordance with the plan of reorganization of this committee, but prescribed that as many army and navy officers should be em ployed upon the work as would be com patible with the successful prosecution of the work. At the same time the committee made the following recommendation : " Resolved, That inasmuch as the ob ject and purpose of the survey of the coast refers principally to the commer cial interests of the country, and as all the laws of Congress in relation to the same contemplate the employment of civilians and officers of the army and navy upon said work, it is the opinion of this board, and they do hereby re spectfully recommend, that it should be under the control and considered a part of the Treasury Department." The President's formal approval of the plan of reorganization and of the recommendation just recited placed the Survey under the Treasury Department, where it has remained ever since. Before describing its present organi zation, it must be explained why the original one was gradually modified by the withdrawal of army and navy officers from participation in its work. During the Mexican war the with drawal of all the navy officers was threatened, and nearly all the army offi cers were withdrawn. At the outbreak of the civil war in 1861 all army and navy officers were withdrawn and the D GEODETIC SURVEY 3 connection of the Army with the Survey ceased altogether. The navy officers did not return until about 1870, but as the needs of the country required the continuation of the Survey, its execu tion was entrusted entirely to civilians during these years. At the outbreak of the Spanish war the progress of the Survey was again endangered by the sudden withdrawal of all the navy officers and enlisted men of the navy. With the concurrence of the Secretary of the Navy, Congress made provision to put the Survey on an entirely civil basis. Its present organi zation may be described as follows: PRESENT ORGANIZATION The head of the Survey, called the Superintendent, reports to the Secretary of the Treasury. The Superintendent is charged with full responsibility in every respect for all the work of the Bureau. He is aided in such of his duties as cannot be delegated to officers of lower rank in the organization, by an Assistant Superintendent, who acts as Superintendent in his absence. Eight officers or groups of officers re port directly to the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent, viz: The assistant in charge of the office. The inspector of hydrography and topography. Inspector of geodetic work. Inspector of magnetic work. The disbursing officer. Editor. Chiefs of field parties. Heads of suboffices. The first four of these officers have a general supervision over all the opera tions of the Survey indicated by their designation, each acting as an advisory officer to the Superintendent in regard to the specified portions of the work. The chiefs of field parties and the heads of suboffices have direct charge of all operations in the field.