Report: State didn't shred sensitive documents

Thursday, March 20, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State files with names, Social Security numbers and even birth certificates have been thrown away rather than shredded, a television station found.

KRCG in Jefferson City even found entire case files from the Department of Social Services in unsecured recycling bins. The department requires employees in its Family Support Division to shred or witness the shredding of case files.

In a written statement to the TV station, Social Services Department director Deborah Scott said there was no indication any data was compromised and that the documents were in a closed area when they were at the Jefferson State Office Building.

But after the documents left the state building, they went to MRS Recycling, where KRCG found them in an unlocked lot. There, the documents are sorted and bailed but not shredded before being shipped elsewhere. In its state contract, MRS is only supposed to pick up paper -- not shred it.

A special assistant to Scott blamed office shuffling. Jandra Carter said the Family Support Division moved in with the Division of Child Support Enforcement about a year ago. Since then, there have been too many case files for employees to shred themselves.

Carter said it's likely employees thought a recycling company would destroy confidential documents.

Carter said the department now uses locked recycling bins and a new company that also shreds sensitive documents. But the agreement with the new company is being reviewed because the shredding for the Family Support Division papers isn't supposed to be contracted out.

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