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Kurt DelBene speaks in 2011 at Seattle University. (Photo Credit: Seattle U.)

Kurt DelBene, the former Microsoft Office president, was appointed this morning to lead — a critical position as the Obama administration attempts to continue the turnaround of the beleaguered site on the front lines of its health-care reform efforts.

He will succeed Jeff Zients, who is leaving to become the director of the National Economic Council next year. DelBene, the husband of U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, also a former Microsoft executive, has agreed to serve in the role for at least the first half of next year, according to the announcement this morning from Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“Kurt has proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development,” said Sebelius in the announcement. “He will be a tremendous asset in our work.”

DelBene was at Microsoft for more than two decades, ultimately leaving the company amid the massive reorganization announced earlier this year. He was an engineer for AT&T Bell Labs early in his career, and also worked as a management consultant.

Suzan DelBene said in a statement, “With his long career in the private sector, Kurt has the unique combination of skills and experience as an executive in the technology industry to manage a project the size and scope of I’ve long said that we need more people to enter public service who are focused on delivering results. Kurt has demonstrated throughout his career that he is about results, and his decision to join the Administration will be extremely valuable to their efforts to improve the website.”

The story was first reported by Bloomberg and Politico.

Thanks to @Seattle_Startup for the tip.

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