SALT LAKE CITY — Longtime government official Palmer DePaulis announced his retirement as executive director of the Utah Department of Human Services on Monday.

DePaulis said it was a privilege to serve the state.

“Retiring is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. I do so with a great sense of accomplishment and appreciation to the many amazing people I have encountered along the way. I look forward to this new chapter in my life and look back to this last chapter with great pride," he said.

A Democrat, DePaulis' public service career goes back to 1983 when he worked as Salt Lake City public works director. Salt Lake residents elected him mayor in 1985, and he served for seven years.

DePaulis also worked in the attorney general's office and as a state tax commissioner. In 2005, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. appointed him executive director of the Department of Community and Culture. Gov. Gary Herbert named him head of Human Services in 2010.

“Palmer serves with heart and passion, understanding the community while caring about the individual," Herbert said. "He is a powerful advocate for Utah’s most vulnerable — the homeless, in particular — and has initiated a thoughtful and innovative ‘system of care’ approach at DHS, providing individualized, culturally responsive services to children and families.”

The state intends to conduct a national search for a new executive director. DePaulis will serve until the governor names a replacement.