Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Microsoft Veteran DelBene Tapped to Run Health Care Site

The White House just announced that it has named Kurt DelBene, former head of Microsoft’s Business Division, to oversee the government’s troubled website.

Microsoft announced DelBene’s plan to retire from that company in a reorganization memo circulated in July. He was named president of Microsoft’s Business Division in 2010.

He’s replacing Jeffrey Zients, the manager who is largely credited with fixing the site after its disastrous October rollout, though the effort remains incomplete. President Obama recently tapped Zients as his new chief economic adviser.

The appointment was announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an agency blog post:

“Kurt, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, will lead and manage starting this Wednesday. Kurt has proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development. He will be a tremendous asset in our work.

“Kurt will work closely with me, the White House, and the teams and senior leadership in place at HHS and CMS to see this project through its next important phase as the CMS team continues to build on their initial progress. He has agreed to serve in this role for at least the first half of next year. Because of the site’s progress, his responsibilities, while similar to Jeff’s, will reflect an evolution of focus as we move on to the next phase.

“First, Kurt will provide management expertise, operations oversight, and critical advice on additional enrollment channels, field operations, marketing and communications. The President and I believe strongly in having one person, with strong experience and expertise in management and execution, who is thinking 24/7 about Kurt’s leadership and management of will be in consultation with CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and in partnership with the project’s general contractor, QSSI.

“Second, Kurt will execute the plan in place, so that we can ensure the site’s performance is strong through the close of open enrollment on March 31, 2014. This will include a focus on increasing system stability, redundancy and capacity, and building on improvements to the user interface, while continuing to prioritize security and privacy issues in line with industry best practices.

DelBene spent 21 years at Microsoft, and before that worked at McKinsey and Co.

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