The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has announced he intends to retire next year.
David Sterling said on Friday he will retire at the end of August after more than three years in the post.
The 61-year-old has led the civil service since the Stormont institutions collapsed in January 2017.
He described the last few years as the "most challenging and difficult" in the history of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS).
He said: "We have found ourselves in the unique situation of working without ministerial direction to keep public services running and deliver the best possible outcomes for our people at a time of unprecedented challenge.
"The enormity of the task has put significant pressure on the NICS and I am proud of the way we have responded.
"Throughout my career, including my time as head of the Civil Service, I have been impressed and humbled by the work of civil servants across departments and I want to thank them for the great work they do every day to help make people's lives better.
"It has been an honour and a privilege to lead this organisation and I look forward to continuing to do so for the next number of months."
He said he is confirming his retirement date now so the hunt for his successor can be launched "when an Executive is restored".
He informed colleagues on Friday morning and has also written to local political leaders.