5. Communications and filing systems
- Route all incoming and outgoing mail through one designated person.
- Make copies of official correspondence (both in letter and electronic forms) and file in separate incoming and outgoing master files.
- Establish filing systems for all areas of CARE’s work and ensure they are secure.
The Administration unit should assist with the proper handling and management of correspondence with the CO, including mail and filing. Improper and inefficient handling of communications can lead to incomplete records of operational and programming activities, policies and procedures, and donor and government regulations.
All incoming mail should be routed through one designated person, preferably the General Administrative Assistant. This person is expected to:
- date stamp all official correspondence
- maintain a log sheet for tracking incoming mail (see Annex 18.25 for sample)
- photocopy all official correspondence for the master file
- ensure distribution of mail to the appropriate persons
- categorise all communication master files to ensure quick of retrieval of documents.
All outgoing mail should be routed through the General Administrative Assistant who will:
- maintain a log sheet for tracking outgoing mail (see Annex 18.26 for sample)
- place a copy of all outgoing mail in the respective master file.
The majority of correspondence will be by email. While it may not be practical to monitor email messages, some amount of control can be established with the help of the IT Administrator. This is essential for emergency-specific communication from CARE International Members, donors, government agencies, etc. A copy of all critical email communications received that require filing can be directed to centralised electronic folders by each recipient. The General Administrative Assistant will:
- access the centralised electronic folders on a daily basis and make and file a hard copy of incoming and outgoing messages
- maintain separate master files for incoming and outgoing emails.
The Administration unit should assist with establishing filing systems for emergency operations. Filing systems should cover:
- project files
- finance records
- procurement records
- Logistic records
- communications to/from HQ
- communications with donors.
Files should be retained for the periods of time as required by Lead Member or donor policy. CARE’s policy is to retain certain files permanently. Refer to Annex 18.27 for more information.
Files that are no longer relevant or required should be destroyed under the personal supervision of a CARE administrator. Do not dispose of such files as scrap, sold as waste, or otherwise discarded. Administrative staff should maintain a register of all destroyed files (see Annex 18.28).
Particular care should be taken in emergency contexts to ensure that files are securely maintained and destroyed. Information can be particularly sensitive in emergencies. It is vital to ensure that information which could put CARE staff, operations or beneficiaries at risk is not filed or accessible to external parties under any circumstances, including in the event of office evacuations.