Everyone who loves Internet Explorer and Windows 8 will rejoice at the latest appointment from the White House to rescue its core policy from incompetence. The rest of us will just marvel at the irony:
The White House is tapping the private sector for its next point man to fix the troubled Obamacare website.
The administration is set to announce that Kurt DelBene, an executive at Microsoft, will succeed Jeff Zients in leading the overhaul of the embattled HealthCare.gov, according to four sources with knowledge of the decision.
But DelBene isn’t just a Microsoft executive. He’s also the husband of a Congresswoman. Guess which party?
DelBene is currently the president of the Microsoft Office Division and has been with the company since 1992. He is also the husband of freshman Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.).
Other than being the husband of a Democratic Representative, DelBene doesn’t dabble much in checkbook politics, according to Open Secrets. Over three election cycles, he’s donated $16,540 to Democratic candidates, with a little over half of that coming in the 2014 cycle. His bio shows why he’s at least more qualified than Zients to take charge of a web-portal disaster:
As president of the Microsoft Office Division, Kurt DelBene is responsible for driving Microsoft’s global productivity strategy for information workers. DelBene oversees the engineering and marketing functions for a wide range of productivity products and services, including Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio.
Previously, he served as the senior vice president for the Microsoft Business Division, responsible for the development of client and server software that collectively delivers to organizations and individuals a holistic productivity experience, including authoring, collaboration, communications, information sharing, and project management. In this role, he oversaw development teams in the Office engineering organization including Office desktop applications, Office Web Applications, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Communications Server and Office Labs.
This frees up Zients to take his appointed position as director of Obama’s National Economics Council as planned on January 1. In his brief tenure as fixer, the promises of a revamped Healthcare.gov went from “fully functional” to “a significantly different user experience,” and the December 1 delivery didn’t even really produce that significant a change. DelBene at least has the experience needed to assess a bad system and determine what it takes to fix it, a process that Microsoft has used on more than a few occasions for its own products at the expense of their consumers.
The problem is this — what it will take to fix the system and its gaping security holes is months of off-line development to make up for the failures in the 42 months HHS had to develop it in the first place. Without that option, DelBene will probably only be incrementally more successful than Zients, and consumers will continue to put their private data at considerable risk just to discover that the system isn’t enrolling them in insurance reliably.
Update: How could I have forgotten Clippy?