Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: March
Senate Honored by Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information Oklahoma, a statewide organization
actively supporting organizations and individuals working to open
records or provide access to government, has honored the Directors
of the state Senate Communications Division and Information Systems
Department with its annual Sunshine Award.
Malia Bennett has been the Senate’s Director of Communications
since 2003. The Communications Division works with all 48 members
of the Senate, and assists media and the public by providing information
on the business of the Senate.
John Warren is the Director of the state Senate’s Department
of Information Systems. The department provides technical support
to all members of the Senate and staff. Warren has been Director
of the department since 1998.
Given annually to a public official or governmental institution
that has shown a commitment to freedom of information, the Sunshine
Award was presented to Bennett and Warren by the organization for
introducing a variety of innovations to give the public greater
and more efficient access to the activities of the Senate.
Sen. President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said the award was an honor
that both staff and Senators can be proud of.
“We take great pride in making an emphasis on open and transparent
government a priority at the state Senate,” said Morgan, D-Stillwater.
“Our communications and information systems departments have
been proactive and innovative in developing a variety of features
to provide the public with greater access to the business of the
Senate. This is a well-deserved honor for our staff.”
Sen. Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said he was pleased
that Bennett and Warren had been selected for the honor.
“We are committed to providing the public with an accessible
and open state government,” said Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.
“Our staff has also worked hard to further that goal, and
we are proud that they have been honored with this award. The Senate
will continue working to find new and innovative ways to provide
the public with government information.”
The organization lauded Bennett and Warren for their efforts to
take advantage of new technologies to further the goal of providing
those who cannot be at the Capitol with as much information as possible.
Since launching the Senate website in 1996, the two departments
have worked together to offer digital audio to allow reporters from
all media access to in-depth information and the legislative process.
Additionally, the Senate unveiled streaming video from the Senate
Chamber and the two largest committee rooms so the public can observe
and hear Senate business each day the body meets.
In 2005, the Senate made wireless internet access available throughout
all areas of the Senate. The group also praised the Senate for adding
innovations such as the posting of all floor votes in real time,
and access to all legislation, schedules and a number of publications.
Freedom of Information Oklahoma was founded in 1990 and continues
their efforts to be an advocate for the public’s right of
access to government information. The group’s 33-member board
of directors includes attorneys, state and elected officials, journalists,
educators and private citizens.
For more information contact:
Senate Communications Office: (405) 521-5774