Michigan Budget Director John Nixon will step down at the end of this month to take a top position at the University of Utah.

Nixon -- director of Michigan's Department of Technology, Management and Budget for the past three years -- is widely considered one of the nation's tech-savviest state budget officers. He also was instrumental in helping Michigan dig out of a $1.5 billion budget deficit.

Appointed state budget director in January 2011 by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Nixon had an immediate impact. Within six months, he had rebalanced the state budget and helped Snyder fashion a sweeping tax-reform package that became law. Nixon also formed a strong and productive partnership with state CIO David Behen, which led to the approval of nearly $50 million in ongoing funding in the state budget for technology upgrades.

"John Nixon's impact on Michigan's comeback is immeasurable," Snyder said in a prepared statement. "He played a key role in restoring Michigan's financial accountability. He's been a trusted adviser, an outstanding director and a true professional."

Nixon will return to Utah, where he served five years as that state's budget director, to take a job as chief business officer for the University of Utah, his alma mater. Behen will succeed Nixon as director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and retain his duties as state CIO. Snyder's deputy chief of staff, John Roberts, will become Michigan's new budget director. Both of those moves are effective March 1.

Nixon was named one of Government Technology's Top 25 "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" in 2012. Government Technology named Behen to the Top 25 list a year later. Nixon also is a Governing magazine Public Official of the Year.

Snyder said the state's drive to provide the public with the best possible service will continue. "The fact that we are able to tap such highly qualified candidates from within our team speaks to the depth of talent across our administration."