The Washington Post

Who is Jeffrey Zients, and how is he qualified to fix

An administration official named Jeff Zients has been tasked with fixing the issues with Obamacare's new website. But who is Jeff Zients? (The Washington Post)

The Obama administration has about five months to fix some serious bugs in the insurance exchange before it starts fining people who don’t have health coverage.

This situation will grow increasingly awkward for the White House if the site’s problems persist. After all, President Obama promised that the online exchange would help Americans comply with the individual insurance mandate and make shopping for coverage as simple as shopping for flights.

The site has instead crashed intermittently and prevented many qualified visitors from registering.

Jeffrey Zients. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite). Jeffrey Zients. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

In hopes of quickly working out the kinks, the White House has enlisted the help of former budget official Jeffrey Zients, one of Obama’s go-to guys when he wants programs to run smoother.

Below is a bit of background information on the man The Post described as “President Obama’s weed-wacker”:

Zients spent much of his career as an entrepreneur, most notably leading Sirius/XM Satellite Radio and Revolution Health, as well as playing a key role in bringing baseball back to Washington.

2004 Post profile: Zients is at the top of his game

The president brought Zients into his administration as chief performance officer and deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. The key word from those titles is “performance.” This guy has spent some time sniffing out ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

A 2010 Fiscal Times article quoted Partnership for Public Service president Max Stier describing Zients as follows: “He’s both hard-charging but nice, and that’s an unusual combination anywhere.”

In 2011, Obama tapped Zients to head a government-reform initiative that started with changing how the government handles trade and export issues.

Roughly one year later, the president named Zients as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget after Jack Lew — now Treasury secretary — moved from the head spot to serve as Obama’s chief of staff.

Zients is a Washington native who attended St. Albans prep school. He graduated from Duke University and worked briefly as a consultant for the Bain & Company management consulting firm, where former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney started his career, before moving back to the nation’s capital.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed or e-mail  josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.