Former Microsoft exec to take over oversight

Kurt DelBene, then-president of the Microsoft Office Division, spoke about Microsoft Office 365 at a news conference in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010. 
Paul Sakuma, AP

Former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene is taking over the management of, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday.

This Wednesday, DelBene will replace former corporate executive Jeff Zients, whom the administration enlisted in October to manage the overhaul of the dysfunctional Obamacare website.

In a blog post, Sebelius wrote that Zients -- who is slated in January to assume his new role as the director of the National Economic Council -- did an "outstanding job" improving the site. "Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on October 1," she wrote.

DelBene, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, has agreed to serve in this role for at least the first half of next year, Sebelius said. He will help HHS see the website through its next phase, as the Obamacare markets start offering coverage in January and open enrollment continues. Specifically, DelBene will help focus on goals like increasing system stability and improving the user interface.

"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," Sebelius wrote.

In a statement, Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates said DelBene "is a talented and capable executive, with a track record of successfully managing complex large-scale technology projects... 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."

DelBene is married to Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.

Asked Tuesday why a tech expert wasn't running the construction of from the start, White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that having someone with such expertise earlier would have helped.