Microsoft Office chief DelBene to head up Healthcare.gov revamp

Microsoft Office chief DelBene to head up Healthcare.gov revamp

Summary: Microsoft's just-retired Office President will be heading up Healthcare.gov as of December 18.

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

Politico reported the news on December 17. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed it shortly thereafter, as did Microsoft itself.

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 yesterday, December 16, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed.

Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced DelBene's appointment in a December 17 press release. From that release:

"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 U.S. Chief of Information Technology in 2011.

Topics: Microsoft, Leadership

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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25 comments
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  • Hell Froze Over

    The Obama administration didn't hire someone from Google.
    WebSiteManager
  • Blue

    OK, but what's up with this solid blue screen now?
    mytake4this
    • Don't worry...

      ... That's just your iPhone 5S being bricked.
      ForeverCookie
  • Healthcare.gov XP?

    So does that mean we should skip even numbered Healthcare.gov versions and stick with odd numbers?
    KPOM1
    • Here's the new address -

      Healthcare.1.gov
      William.Farrel
    • As always

      Hold off until Service Pack 1
      dsf3g
  • Here comes your ribbon

    Any applicant will need now a 30 day intro course to HealthCare.gov 2014 and certification conveniently provided by your friends at Microsoft.
    kirovs@...
    • well then

      You can look forward to the Ribbon cutting ceremony sometime next year.
      greywolf7
  • Microsoft Turnkey exchange solution offered since 2011 too

    Well this is a good moving having a technology company in charge that is NOT a subsidiary of a health insurance company at the top. Good choice here for the better and I do wonder if any of the technologies of the Microsoft turnkey State Exchange software solution they offered in 2011 might appear? Everyone ignored this and darn both Microsoft and Oracle offered turnkey solutions. Now that doesn't mean they don't need apps and code written to make them work but it's a lot of integration code already written versus what HHS/CMS did when they got duped on a lot of this. Here's my post from 2011 archives when they announced it..

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2011/02/microsoft-announces-new-low-cost.html

    Also Oracle's offering on a platform already integrated..

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2011/09/oracle-announces-insurance-exchange.html

    Also too if you have missed the news of the last couple of months, Microsoft and Oracle work together with Azure and Oracle technologies with the cloud and Microsoft had a great presentation about it at the big Oracle Open World Conference this year and both companies have been integrating their software for years, even as competitors as they know what gets the job done.
    MedicalQuack
  • I hope he understands government procurement rules

    Procurement rules are a big reason why gov can't move as fast as private industry.
    Doug0915
  • Peter principle in action!

    Hit his top in private sector; time for the lateral into government!
    Techboy_z
    • Time will tell

      But he's only in for 6 months, which is a good way to avoid the final promotion.
      John L. Ries
  • God Help Us All!

    Drive Costs through the roof and reliability through the floor. Use Microsoft solutions!
    itguy10
    • They should use Linux, right?

      Oh wait they are.

      Could be why costs are through the roof, and reliability is through the floor.

      I agree with you 100% - Use Microsoft solutions!
      William.Farrel
      • You're both incredibly ignorant...

        Some of the best software in the world runs in Linux. Some of the best runs on Windows. Some of the best runs on OSX. Some of the best runs on Android. What OS software is running on has no bearing on how good, how reliable or how costly software is. Designers and developers are what determine these things. So stop being stupid.
        jasonp@...
  • Microsoft Office chief DelBene to head up Healthcare.gov revamp

    Time to get some Microsoft infrastructure in there so that it works.
    Loverock.Davidson
  • Nepotism?

    Let's see, DelBene's wife is Susan DelBene who is a US Representative from Washington State. No wonder he got the job. Guess they need the money.
    gtaylor@...
    • If he weren't qualified...

      I'd agree with you. You seem to prescribe to the idea that the perception of nepotism should automatically exclude someone from consideration, even if that person is one of the most qualified. My grandfather would call that "cutting off your nose to spite your face." It's a ridiculous position to take. There are plenty of actual instances of nepotism to point to. When you point to something like this, you wind up sounding like the boy who cried wolf. Pick your battles. This isn't the one you want.
      jasonp@...
    • She's a freshman member of Congress

      She is a member of the President's party, but how much pull is she really likely to have? Being a freshman member of the minority party in the US House of Representatives is about as low on the federal totem pole as one can go.

      Sen. Murray may have put in a good word for Mr. DelBene, but I don't think Mrs. DelBene had much to do with it (except to be married to him).
      John L. Ries
  • If Health Care Gov website was run by Google and Linux

    Google - everybody would know your ailments.
    Linux - it would be hard to get any medicine for your ailments, because its not compatible with your biological makeup.
    Apple - it would be too expensive.
    adacosta38