The Corrections Department has a new boss.

Ray Smith will take over from current chief executive Barry Matthews who retires at the end of the year, State Services Commissioner, Iain Rennie, announced today.

Mr Matthews signalled earlier this year he planned to step down.

Mr Smith has been the deputy chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development's Child, Youth and Family since July 2006, Mr Rennie said.

He had created a high-performing senior leadership team and "improved the morale of the staff and lifted the organisation's image", he said.

"He has extensive experience in leading and successfully managing change, in large, complex service delivery organisations."

From 2001 to 2006, Mr Smith was deputy chief executive of Work and Income at the Ministry of Social Development.

Mr Smith had also held several other senior management positions including national commissioner of the Department of Work and Income, from 1998 to 2001, and national service delivery manager of the New Zealand Income Support Service.

He has been appointed for a five-year term.