Microsoft Office chief DelBene to head up Healthcare.gov revamp

Microsoft's just-retired Office President will be heading up Healthcare.gov as of December 18.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

Editorial standards