Kurt DelBene, Microsoft’s chief digital officer and executive vice president of Corporate Strategy, speaks at a public meeting of the Defense Innovation Board in Austin, Texas March 5, 2020.  DOD photo by EJ Hersom

Leadership

Biden administration picks former Microsoft exec for VA CIO

Kurt DelBene, a former senior executive at Microsoft and an instrumental figure in the effort to repair the HealthCare.gov website during the Obama administration, is being tapped to serve as CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA is one of the few agencies with a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed CIO. The full title of the post is assistant secretary for information and technology and CIO. The technology unit at VA has its own appropriations line and manages the technology portfolio, cybersecurity and more for the major divisions at VA, including Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration.

The job is frequently filled with career officials in an acting role. Since 2009, there have been just three Senate-confirmed occupants of the VA CIO post. The job is currently being filled by Neil Evans, a VA physician who heads the Office of Connected Care in the Veterans Health Administration.

VA is seeking a $4.8 billion appropriation for the Office of Information and Technology for fiscal year 2022. OI&T is also playing in increasingly important role in the ongoing $21 billion-plus Electronic Health Care Record Modernization (EHRM) program.

A longtime Microsoft executive, DelBene took leave from the company in late 2013 to replace Jeffrey Zients as the lead of the team working to stabilize and improve the HealthCare.gov website, the front door for citizens to obtain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The website famously failed at launch and required an intensive effort to scale the site and improve its performance.

DelBene's career at Microsoft included stints as executive vice president of corporate strategy, core services engineering and operations as well as president of Microsoft's Office division. He retired from the company in September 2021. He has also served as a member of the Defense Innovation Board.

DelBene is married to Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) who was first elected in 2012 and serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. Her district includes Microsoft's Redmond headquarters.

This article first appeared on FCW. Photo credit: Kurt DelBene speaks at a March 2020 meeting of the Defense Innovation Board in Austin, Texas; DOD photo by EJ Hersom.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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