Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle will step down at the end of the year.
An advertisement for the chief executive role appeared on the State Services Commission website over the weekend. Applications for the role close on 8 August.
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Mr Boyle has been in the role since 2011 and had signed on for a five year term - that was extended in September 2016.
Last month Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced changes to make Work and Income offices "friendlier, warmer environments" and has stated there was a huge culture change needed within the welfare system.
A number of appointments were announced in a public sector game of musical chairs last month, with chief executives from several ministries being shuffled into new roles. Mr Boyle was not among them.
In the Ministry of Social Development's 2017 Briefing to the Incoming Minister, which includes key information about the ministry and what to expect in the year ahead, there was no mention of Mr Boyle leaving the role.
But State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes says it was always foreshadowed that Mr Boyle would finish up at the end of the year.
"When he was reappointed to the role in September 2016 Mr Boyle advised me that it was his preference to leave the Public Service when his term came to an end in December 2018," Mr Hughes said in a statement to Newshub.
"The role of Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, is one of the biggest and most responsible leadership roles in the Public Service.
Mr Boyle has provided strong and principled leadership in this role for the past seven years. I thank him for his exceptional record of public service, not only with MSD, but across the course of his 15 years as a public service chief executive. And I wish him well for the future," he said.
Mr Boyle is one of those Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is suing over an alleged privacy breach.
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Details of an overpayment of Mr Peters superannuation were leaked to media during the 2017 election campaign, the acting Prime Minister is seeking a total of $1.8 million in damages - $450,000 of that on behalf of Mr Boyle and MSD.
A Department of Internal Affairs investigation into the privacy breach found Mr Boyle told then Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley in a private meeting on 31 July 2017 following their regular officials' meeting. However the investigation could not find the source of the leak.
In May last year Mr Boyle's deputy chief executive, Murray Edridge, stood down after a privacy blunder which saw individual client data exposed to agencies who were not supposed to have access to it.
In September the Social Security Appeal Authority found the ministry was using pseudonyms during benefit review processes.
That was despite the Authority ruling the practice unlawful. Its 2017 ruling said it appeared Mr Boyle had disregarded the ruling.
Mr Boyle defended the use of pseudonyms, saying the false names protected staff members from threats and violence. He rejected any suggestion he'd given a personal directive.