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This act established the Weather Service as a civilian Bureau.


[Act of Oct. 1, 1890, Sess. I, ch. 1266, 26 Stat. 653-55 (1890)]

FIFTY-FIRST CONGRESS. SESS. I. CH. 1265, 1266. 1890 653

CHAP. 1266. - An act to increase the efficiency and reduce the expenses of the Signal Corps of the Army, and to transfer the Weather Service to the Department of Agriculture.

SEC. I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the civilian duties now performed by the Signal Corps of the Army shall hereafter devolve upon a bureau to be known as the Weather Bureau, which, on and after July first, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, shall be established in and attached to the Department of Agriculture, and the Signal Corps of the Army shall remain a part of the Military Establishment under the direction of the Secretary of War, and all estimates for its support shall be included with other estimates for the support of the Military Establishment.

SEC. 2. That the Chief Signal Officer shall have charge, under the direction of the Secretary of War, of all military signal duties, and of books, papers, and devices connected therewith, including telegraph and telephone apparatus and the necessary meteorological instruments for use on target ranges, and other military uses; the construction, repair, and operation of military telegraph lines, and the duty of collecting and transmitting information for the Army by telegraph or otherwise, and all other duties usually pertaining to military signaling; and the operations of said corps shall be confined to strictly military matters.

SEC. 3. That the Chief of the Weather Bureau, under the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture, on and after July first, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, shall have charge of the forecasting of weather, the issue of storm warnings, the display of weather and flood signals for the benefit of agriculture, commerce, and navigation, the gauging and reporting of rivers, the maintenance and operation of sea-coast telegraph lines and the collection and transmission of marine intelligence for the benefit of commerce and navigation, the reporting of temperature and rain-fall conditions for the cotton interests, the display of frost and cold-wave signals, the distribution of meteorological information in the interests of agriculture and commerce, and the taking of such meteorological observations as may be necessary to establish and record the climatic conditions of the United States, or as are essential for the proper execution of the foregoing duties.

SEC. 4. That the Weather Bureau shall hereafter consist of one Chief of Weather Bureau and such civilian employees as Congress may annually provide for and as may be necessary to properly perform the duties devolving on said bureau by law, and the chierf of said bureau shall receive an annual compensation of four thousand five hundred dollars, and be appointed by the President , by and with the consent of the Senate: Provided, That the Chief Signal Officer of the Army may, in the discretion of the President, be detailed to take charge of said bureau, and in like manner other officers of the Army, not exceeding four, expert in the duties of the weather service may be assigned to duty with the Weather Bureau and while so serving shall receive the pay and allowances to which they are entitled by law.

SEC. 5. That the enlisted force of the Signal Corps , excepting those hereinafter provided for, shall be honorably discharged from the Army on June thirtieth , eighteen hundred and ninety-one, and such portion of this entire force, including the civilian employees of the Signal Service, as may be necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the Weather Bureau shall, if they so elect, be transferred to the Department of Agriculture, and the compensation of the force so transferred shall continue as it shall be in the Signal Service on June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, until otherwise provided by law: Provided, That skilled observers serving in the Signal Service at said date shall be entitled to preference over other persons not in the Signal Service for appointment in the Weather Bureau to places for which they may be properly qualified until the expiration of the time for which they were last enlisted.

SEC. 6. That in addition to the Chief Signal Officer the commissioned force of the Signal Corps shall hereafter consist of one major, four captains (mounted), and four first lieutenants (mounted), who shall receive the pay and allowances of like grades in the Army. The officers herein provided for shall be appointed from the Army, including lieutenants of the Signal Corps, preference being given to officers who have performed long and efficient service in the Signal Service: Provided, That no appointment shall be made until a board, to be appointed by the Secretary of War, shall have submitted a report recommending officers for appointment in the Signal Corps in the order of merit, based upon the importance and usefulness of work performed in the Signal Service, as said board may determine from the official records. And such second lieutenants of the Signal Corps as may not be promoted under the provisions of this act shall be appointed second lieutenants in the line of the Army with present date of commission, and shall be assigned to the first vacancies which may occur in the grade of second lieutenant after the appointments herein provided for have been made.

SEC. 7. That all appointments and promotions in the Signal Corps after this reorganization shall be made after examination and approval under sections twelve hundred and six and twelve hundred and seven of the Revised Statutes, which are hereby amended so as to be applicable to and to provide for the promotion of the lieutenants of the Signal Corps in the same manner as they now apply to the Corps of Engineers and the Ordnance Corps; and all vacancies which may hereafter exist in the grade of first lieutenant in the Signal Corps shall be filled by transfer from the line of the Army, after competitive examination and recommendation by a board of officers of the Signal Corps to be appointed by the Secretary of War.

SEC. 8. That the enlisted force of the Signal Corps of the Army shall hereafter consist of fifty sergeants , of which ten shall be of the first class, with pay of hospital stewards. No further enlistments shall be made in the Signal Corps for duties enumerated in section three: Provided, That any vacancy existing or hereafter occurring in that portion of the force of the Signal Corps engaged in said duties may be filled by a civilian at a salary not exceeding that now paid for the same class of work in the State or Territory where the services may be performed, and this compensation for said services shall continue until July first, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, which compensation may be paid out of the appropriation for the pay of the present enlisted force.

SEC. 9. That on and after July first, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, the appropriations for the support of the Signal Corps of the Army shall be made with those of other staff corps of the Army, and the appropriations for the support of the Weather Bureau shall be made with those of the other bureaus of the Department of the Agriculture, and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of Agriculture to prepare future estimates for the Weather Bureau which shall be hereafter specially developed and extended in the interests of agriculture.

SEC. 10. That the President is authorized to appoint on or before March first, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, a board of three officials, which board shall be charged with the duty of examining the classes and kinds of property and the amount of moneys pertaining to and in the possession of the Signal Corps, and said board shall as soon as practicable make to the Secretary of War a report setting forth the amount of moneys and the quantities and kinds of property more suitable for the work of the Weather Bureau and not necessary for the use of the Signal Corps, and what part of said property will be suitable and necessary for the Signal Corps, and upon the approval of said report by the Secretary of War the property and moneys which shall be decided to properly pertain to the Weather Bureau work shall be transferred to such bureau, and to the custody of the Secretary of Agriculture, while the remaining property and funds shall continue in the possession of the Signal Corps.

Approved, October 1, 1890.




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