Former Microsoft exec chosen to oversee healthcare website

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

The troubled Obamacare website is now in the hands of a former Microsoft executive.

On Tuesday the White House announced Kurt DelBene will head up—and clean up—

Delbene is the husband of Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, also a former Microsoft executive.

Kurt DelBene spent more than twenty years at Microsoft. He led development of Office 2010, was promoted to president of the division, and oversaw Office 365, which took some functions online.

On Tuesday, the company updated his bio, saying his retirement was effective December 16.

CEO Steve Ballmer announced DelBene's departure last summer as part of an executive shakeup.

"Whether he was pushed out or whether he decided after two decades enough was enough, it's not really clear," said CNET senior writer Seth Rosenblatt, who called DelBene a safe and good choice.

"He really knows the ins and outs of dealing with a complex organization that has a lot of personalities and its own political systems, so for him to jump over to the big political system is not really such a stretch," Rosenblatt said.

Seattle University professor Madhu Rao wrote in an email to KIRO 7 that "Kurt has a strong engineering and product development background which are going to be important in the overhaul."

Rao wrote Microsoft has a long history of working with third party IT vendors. "Given the role QSSI has played in the system debacle, the ability to coordinate and collaborate with this vendor could be a critical predicate for success," Rao wrote.
 Advocates for health care reform see the appointment as a hopeful sign.

"He clearly has led some major projects that are comparable to the major task he's going to have here, so it seems like an excellent choice," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.