Microsoft's Kurt DelBene to lead HealthCare.gov revamp

Kurt DelBene, who just retired as the VP for Microsoft Office, will be heading up the Obama administration's troubled site starting Wednesday.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
2 min read
Kurt DelBene Microsoft

Retiring Microsoft Office Vice President Kurt DelBene is going to be heading up the revamp of the troubled HealthCare.gov site.

Politico reported the news on Tuesday. The US Department of Health and Human Services confirmed it shortly thereafter. 

Microsoft announced in July 2013 that DelBene, a 20-year Microsoft veteran, would be retiring as Microsoft reorganized itself along more device/services-focused lines. DelBene's last day at Microsoft was Monday, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed.

Kathleen Sebelius, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced DelBene's appointment in a press release today. From that release:

"Today, I am pleased to announce Kurt DelBene as my senior advisor and successor to Jeff Zients. Jeff did an outstanding job working with our team to provide management advice and counsel on the HealthCare.gov project. Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on October 1. I am very grateful for his service and leadership. His role leading the management of the site proved critical and today we are announcing his successor: Kurt DelBene. Kurt, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, will lead and manage HealthCare.gov starting this Wednesday."

Back in 2011, Ballmer appointed DelBene as president of the Office division in a move some saw as signifying CEO Steve Ballmer's decision to bring more engineering-savvy talent into Microsoft's senior leadership circles."

The Obama administration's Healthcare.gov initiative has been plagued with problems since it launched in October 2013. While some front-facing parts are now in better shape than they were in the first few months of its operation, the back-end is still a mess, according to some accounts.

According to Sebelius' announcement, DelBene has agreed to oversee the Healthcare.gov project for "at least the first half of next year." He will be providing management expertise, operations oversight, advice on additional enrollment channels, field operations, marketing and communications. He will work alongside CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and in partnership with general contractor on the project, QSSI.

As Politico noted, DelBene's wife is freshman Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), who also formerly served as a vice president in Microsoft's mobile communications business.

Update: DelBene isn't the first Microsoft exec to move into a high-profile government job, post-Microsoft. Former Windows Server Director Steven Van Roekel was appointed the US Chief of Information Technology in 2011.

This story originally appeared as "Microsoft Office chief DelBene to head up Healthcare.gov revamp" on ZDNet.