The security and safe keeping of documents starts with staff training and facility management. Document control measures exist from the initial intake to long-term organization. Characteristics to consider when applying document control measures include confidentiality and public access to files, the control duration and destruction procedures, physical document management and electronic document management.
Management and staff determine document control qualifications. Staff qualifications, background investigations and employment restrictions depend on the type of documents under management control. Employees who work with legal documents maintained in a court system require a criminal background check. Financial document workers may require a financial background check. Workers who handle federal, state, local, bank and housing documents with personal information and social security numbers typically require at least a minimum background check.
Businesses must provide secure facilities based on the type of documents under control. Single documents or document files with personal information must be secure at all times. Private organizations must decide which documents must be secured in restricted areas, or risk legal liability for unauthorized access to the private information.
Initial Document Control
A business must access document control procedures from the initial intake of sensitive documents. Non-sensitive documents can be processed casually. Sensitive incoming documents should be date-stamped to verify when the document was presented to the office. A different stamp or method can be used for documents delivered electronically, in person, by mail or by fax.
Confidential Document Control
A document with any personal information, including name, address, phone number, social security number, family information, medical history, financial history or non-disclosed personal facts should be keep confidential. Document controls for confidential documents or files limit access to the individual whose personal file it is or the company representative who needs to access the information for business reasons.
Public Access Document Control
Public access documents must be labeled differently than confidential documents. Qualified staff must be instructed on the minimal requirements for access. A formal procedure should detail how a document or file can be viewed or released. A sign-in sheet may be used, or a form of personal identification may be held until the document or file is returned. Federal and state laws that restrict or permit access should be available in print.
Duration and Destruction of Document Control
Document control requires duration limitations for maintaining documents and strict guidelines on secure destruction. Specific industry rules and regulations may apply. Trained employees determine when and how to terminate the document control based on characteristics of the documents. These characteristics include the information in the documents, the age of the document and the purpose of the document. The documents can be destroyed after the information is no longer needed, the set time to maintain the information has expired or the document is no longer needed for its original purpose.