Dame Helen Ghosh is set to become the first female Home Office permanent secretary when she takes up her post at the end of this year.
Ghosh, currently permanent secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will replace Sir David Normington who is retiring from the civil service.
She will be the Home Office's first female permanent secretary in its 228-year history.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "I am delighted that Dame Helen Ghosh will be joining the Home Office as permanent secretary. She has a huge amount of experience in numerous departments across Whitehall and will, I am sure, make an invaluable contribution to the department as we deliver the vital reforms that are underway. I am very much looking forward to working with her."
Ghosh has been permanent secretary at DEFRA since 2005 and before that had extensive policy and management experience in the Department for Work and Pensions, Revenue and Customs and the Cabinet Office.
She said: "I am very much looking forward to supporting the Home Secretary as she takes forward her radical policy programme, and to building on David Normington and his team's terrific work over the past few years to ensure that the Home Office has the capability to deliver."
The cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell said, "I am delighted that Helen has been appointed as the new permanent secretary at the Home Office. She has an outstanding record of organisational leadership as permanent secretary at DEFRA, and from previous senior leadership roles at HM Revenue and Customs and Cabinet Office. Her appointment will ensure the Home Office is very capably led through the significant changes ahead."
Ghosh is one five female permanent secretaries in Whitehall that include Ursula Brennan (Ministry of Defence), Dame Gillian Morgan (Welsh Assembly Government), Minouche Shafik (Department for International Development) and Moira Wallace (Department of Energy and Climate Change).