Kurt DelBene, the former president of Microsoft's Office division, will soon oversee the U.S. government's troubled Healthcare.gov website, according to a news release from his former company.
The release, which was posted on the official Microsoft blog, states DelBene's official title will be "senior advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services," though it notes he will "lead and manage" Healthcare.gov in the new position. A blog post on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website attributed to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, notes DelBene has agreed to serve in the position through "at least the first half of next year."
DelBene served in several roles at Microsoft before his retirement in July; he was president of the Office division at the time, though he transitioned to an advisory role in the company. Prior to those positions, he served as president of the company's business division, general manager of Outlook and group manager of Exchange.
Though DelBene comes from the private sector, he has ties to the government. His wife, Suzan DelBene, is a sitting U.S. congresswoman, representing Washington's 1st Congressional District as a Democrat. She is also a former Microsoft employee, having worked at the company for more than 10 years primarily in business and marketing roles.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates noted DelBene's ability to lead large teams in the company's press release, a trait that will be necessary in his new role, given the amount of private sector companies working on the website.
"Working with Kurt over many years, I know him to be a passionate advocate for using technology to solve difficult problems at scale," Gates said. "He brings deep expertise as a manager and engineer to his new responsibilities. I'm certain he'll make an important positive contribution in his new role with HHS."
Healthcare.gov suffered from crippling bugs and crashes when it first launched in October, though its problems have largely subsided in recent weeks thanks to government contractors working around the clock to fix the problems. Users are still experiencing some issues, however, which Sebelius said she hopes will be resolved with 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."