Microsoft Exec Tapped To Oversee Project

Microsoft's Kurt DelBene has been appointed to take over the much-maligned Web site, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday.

DelBene will be a senior advisor reporting directly to Sebelius, confirmed White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a briefing. is aimed at providing entry to the insurance marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as "Obamacare," which is considered one of the hallmarks of President Barack Obama's terms in office.

However, the Web site's development and rollout was a debacle from its launch on Oct. 1. At the time of its launch, the site repeatedly crashed and few were able to get into the health care exchange. Performance has vastly improved since then, but the Web site is far from seamless.

DelBene will take over management of from Jeffrey Zients, a management expert who was brought in to temporarily oversee the project. Once the transition is complete, Zients will move to his new position as director of the National Economic Council in February.

Microsoft said in July's massive company reorganization that DelBene would be retiring from the company, but gave no hint of Wednesday's announcement.

DelBene is a 21-year Microsoft veteran who most recently served as president of Microsoft's lucrative Office division. During his tenure, he also oversaw development teams and, according to his bio, managed the Office engineering organization, including Office desktop applications, Office Web applications, SharePoint, Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Communications Server (now Lync) and Office Labs. In addition, DelBene managed document and Web-page authoring and collaboration tools for Office.

Carney described DelBene as "uniquely suited" to overseeing, given his management roles at Microsoft, his prior stints as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and his time as an engineer at AT&T Bell Labs.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.