Published: Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 | 11:58 AM ET
By: Dan Mangan | Health Care Reporter
The White House is rebooting HealthCare.gov's repairman.
Former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene will take over the volunteer job of overseeing ongoing fixes to the federal Obamacare marketplace HealthCare.gov starting Wednesday, officials said.
DelBene will replace management guru Jeffrey Zients, who was tapped by President Obama in October to manage the emergency repair job on that badly crippled website.
The switch comes at a critical time for the site, which has been dramatically improved under Zients' reign, but which now is engaged in a furious effort to enroll as many people as possible in new Affordable Care Act insurance by the New Year.
DelBene, who retired last summer as president of the Microsoft Office division after two decades at the software behemoth, is the husband of US Rep. Suzan DelBene, (D-Wash), herself an ex-Microsoft executive who was elected to Congress in 2012. Before his tenure at Microsoft, DelBene was a management consultant with McKinsey and Company and a software developer and systems engineer for AT&T Bell Laboratories.
Officials said DelBene has agreed to stay on the job of managing HealthCare.gov for at least the first half of 2014. And he while he technically will be paid for his work, DelBene plans on returning all of that money to the US Treasury, according to the White House.
Open-enrollment on the site, which sells Obamacare health insurance to residents of 36 states, closes March 31, but have qualifying life events such as job losses after that date will be able to enroll on the site.
Zients was originally scheduled to start his new job as director for the National Economic Council at the beginning of 2014. But on Tuesday it was disclosed that Zients will take that job after the State of the Union address on Jan. 28. In the meantime, Gene Sperling will stay on as the council's director until Zients takes over.