The Washington Post

Former Microsoft executive to replace Zients in managing

(Jon Elswick/Associated Press) (Jon Elswick/Associated Press)

The Obama administration has tapped former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene to take over managing the online health-care enrollment system from Jeffrey Zients, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday. He will serve as an unpaid adviser.

DelBene, who is married to Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division and will begin Wednesday. Zients, who is scheduled to head the National Economic Council beginning in February, had requested a month's time to prepare for his incoming West Wing assignment.

"Kurt has proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development," Sebelius wrote in the HHS blog, adding he will serve in the role at least until the end of June. "He will be a tremendous asset in our work."

Sebelius said he "will provide management expertise, operations oversight, and critical advice on additional enrollment channels, field operations, marketing and communications. The President and I believe strongly in having one person, with strong experience and expertise in management and execution, who is thinking 24/7 about"

DelBene will also work on the site’s performance to ensure it functions well throughout the open enrollment period that ends on March 31, Sebelius added. "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," she wrote.

Politico first reported DelBene's appointment Tuesday morning.

Like Zients, DelBene will work for free: according to administration officials he will technically receive a salary, but will then donate it to the U.S. Treasury.


Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.



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