Acting CERA boss appointed, Sutton sent home

John Ombler will be the acting chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has announced in a statement.

He will take up the role on 1 December and will continue in it when CERA becomes a departmental agency on 1 February next year. He will occupy the position for six months or until a permanent replacement is found, whichever is earlier.

Current CEO Roger Sutton is on leave, following his Monday resignation in the wake of an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against him, made by a senior female CERA executive.

It was also announced on Monday that Mr Sutton would continue to lead CERA until 31 January, the date it ceases to be a public service department because that was considered “a natural point for a change of leadership for CERA”.

Mr Rennie’s statement says that while Mr Sutton remains employed, he will not be working at CERA’s office while he works with Mr Ombler to affect an orderly transition.

According to the SSC head, he and Mr Sutton agreed Mr Ombler’s early appointment would ensure the changeover didn’t “slow the momentum of CERA’s work programme in Christchurch” and would be “be in the best interests of CERA staff and the Christchurch rebuild”.

Experienced senior public servant Mr Ombler was CERA’s establishment CEO, and has been a deputy state services commissioner and a senior manager in the Department of Conservation.

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