In accounting and organization aspect, Internal control is performed as a process effected by an organization's structure, policies, processes, authority flows, people and management information system, designed to help the organization accomplish specific goals or objectives. It is a means by which an organization's resources are planned, directed, monitored, and measured. It plays an important role in preventing and detecting fraud and protecting the organization's resources, both physical (e.g., machinery, property, cash and inventory) and intangible (e.g., reputation or intellectual property such as trademarks).
At the organizational level, internal control objectives relate to the reliability of financial reporting, timely feedback on the achievement of strategic goals, operational, reliable financial reporting and compliance with laws. At the specific transaction level, internal control refers to the actions taken to achieve a specific objective (e.g., how to ensure the organization's payments to third parties are for valid services rendered.) Internal control procedures reduce process variation, leading to more predictable outcomes.
Internal control is a key element of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which required improvements in internal control in United States public corporations. Internal controls within business entities are called also business controls.