It looks like Healthcare.gov might finally be getting the overhaul it needs. Former president of Microsoft office, Kurt DelBene has been placed at the helm of the national health insurance website. DelBene, who worked at Microsoft for two decades, was president of its Office division for almost three years. Though Microsoft had claimed that DelBene chose to retire, his exit from the company was, in fact, a result of corporate reorganization this summer.
The Obama administration has expressed great confidence in Mr. Delbene’s ability to solve the problem that has been a major problem for Americans and a point of attack for opponents of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Secretary of health and human service, Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement that, “Kurt has proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development…He will be a tremendous asset in our work.”
DelBene will replace Jeff Zients as manager of the site. Zients was only expected to manage Healthcare.gov temporarily; next year he be taking on his new appointment as director of the National Economic Council. Sebelius praised Zients for his work on the site since its launch on October. “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,” she said in her announcement on hhs.gov. Zients was not expected to stay on the project beyond December.
An employee of Microsoft since 1992, DelBene is married to Suzane DelBene, also a former Microsoft executive. Suzanne DelBene was elected to Congress in 2012 as a Democratic representative for WashingtonState. In response to her husband’s appointment she expressed her view that “with his long career in the private sector, Kurt has the unique combination of skills and experience as an executive in the technology industry to manage a project the size and scope of Healthcare.gov.”
Since October, the White House has been enlisting the aid of top tech managers and engineers. Among them were Michael Dickerson of Google, and Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison. Just days before DelBene’s appointment, the Obama administration was working to resolve the latest glitch in the site that prevented about 15,000 applicant documents from being processed. A team worked to fix the problem over the weekend while the site continued to receive more than 500,000 visitors.
The loss of the applicant documents overshadowed statements from the administration the rate of enrollment inaccuracies was declining. To begin receiving healthcare coverage at the start of 2014, Americans will have to have selected a policy by the 23rd of December. How likely many Americans are to be insured by the new year may just depend on how quickly DelBene can work.