New Mexico’s top technology official, a longtime and key architect of its IT policy and modernization, will step down in two weeks and return to academia, the state’s governor announced.

Department of Information Technology (DoIT) Secretary Darryl Ackley will resign effective Aug. 27 to rejoin the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology as chief technology officer at the Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (ICASA), Gov. Susana Martinez announced on Aug. 13.

Martinez nominated Ackley as CIO and DoIT secretary in January 2011, shortly after the start of her first term, saying at the time her administration sought to maximize government efficiency through technology. She indicated his background would be a significant asset as the state looked to streamline the flow of information.

During his time as CIO, Ackley spearheaded the modernization of systems including SHARE, the state’s human resources and capital management system; its public safety radio infrastructure; and he led “multiple digital government initiatives” including creation of the New Mexico One-Stop Business Portal, the state said in its news release.

Ackley led major upgrades to the state’s electronic payroll system that rolled out last year; and said in a May interview with Government Technology he expects the state to overcome legacy technology like copper wiring to achieve a digital convergence of public safety communications.

“There’s a long way to go for that, but I think that convergence is on the way,” the CIO said at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Midyear conference in Baltimore. Ackley was chosen to represent NASCIO in the FirstNet national public safety network initiative in 2013, and served as NASCIO president from 2015-2016.

“With people like Secretary Ackley, we’ve been able to accomplish incredible things for New Mexico,” Martinez said in a statement. “Darryl has dedicated himself to improving New Mexico and has been a tremendous asset to our state.”

Ackley described his tenure as CIO as “a privilege,” adding in a statement, “Under the governor’s leadership, we’ve modernized state government and helped prepare New Mexico for the future.”

A member of Martinez’s cabinet, Ackley had previously been assistant director at ICASA, one of the many research centers at New Mexico Tech, from 2006 to 2011 according to his LinkedIn profile. Van Romero, New Mexico Tech’s vice president of research and economic development, told GT the CTO position had gone unfilled since its previous inhabitant, Michael Smith, became director in 2006.

“It turns out that ICASA, right now is getting a lot more funding than it has in the past and we are in the process of expanding the workforce there. The timing couldn’t have been better for us and for Darryl,” Romero said, noting that the former CIO’s responsibilities will likely be somewhat different as CTO at ICASA, where he’ll start at the end of August.

“What ICASA does is much more on the research side — what are the new tools that need to be developed to address not only cybersecurity but big data issues? He won’t be plugging leaks. He’ll be finding new ways to prevent the leaks from ever happening,” Romero said, noting that ICASA focuses not just on virtual but physical attacks in private life and in wartime.

Following Ackley’s departure, Deputy DoIT Secretary Estevan Lujan will serve as acting cabinet secretary, the state said. Additional details on the state’s job search for its next CIO were unclear.