Obama administration taps former Microsoft exec to fix

Obama administration taps former Microsoft exec to fix

The former head of Microsoft Office is being tapped to fix problems plaguing the Web site that is supposed to make it easy to sign up for Affordable Health Care coverage online.

Kurt DelBene, the former president of the Microsoft Office Division, will work for Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and replace Jeff Zients, Sebelius says in a blog post.

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DelBene starts tomorrow and is charged with managing the Web site. "Kurt has proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development," Sebelius writes.

DelBene's Job One will be making sure the site works well through the open enrollment period ending March 31 of next year. "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," Sebelius writes.

DelBene will also advise on where the program will go after that. "...Kurt will provide management expertise, operations oversight, and critical advice on additional enrollment channels, field operations, marketing and communications," she says in the blog.

DelBene retired unexpectedly from Microsoft in July after serving the company since 1992 in a number of roles finishing off as President of the Microsoft Office Division. Some considered him a possible replacement for retiring CEO Steve Ballmer. His job was wiped out in Ballmer's reorganization of the company last July, leading some to speculate that he chose to retire because there was no new slot for him. Microsoft says the two are unrelated.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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