Administration enlists former CEO to help fix HealthCare.gov

President Barack Obama, accompanied by acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday April 10, 2013, to discuss his proposes fiscal 2014 federal budget. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced that Jeff Zients, a former corporate executive and one of President Obama's economic advisers, will lead the "tech surge" intended to fix HealthCare.gov, the flawed Obamacare website.

Zients, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, "has a proven track record" in management and will provide short-term advice, assessments and recommendations to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department.

In January, Zients is slated to assume his new role as the director of the National Economic Council. Mr. Obama first tapped Zients in 2009 to serve in the new role of U.S. Chief Performance Officer, and from 2012 through early 2013, he served for just over a year as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Zients has decades of experience in management consulting and previously served as CEO of the Advisory Board Company and chairman of the Corporate Executive Board.

Along with Zients, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a blog post Tuesday that HHS will work with "additional experts and specialists drawn from within government, our contractors, and industry, including veterans of top Silicon Valley companies."

Sebelius didn't say specifically who else was participating in the "tech surge" but noted that the team includes a "handful" of Presidential Innovation Fellows.

"This new infusion of talent will bring a powerful array of subject matter expertise and skills, including extensive experience scaling major IT systems," she wrote. "This effort is being marshaled as part of a cross-functional team that is working aggressively to diagnose parts of HealthCare.gov that are experiencing problems, learn from successful states, prioritize issues, and fix them."

HealthCare.gov serves as the online health insurance marketplace for 36 states. The remaining states have built their own websites (referred to as exchanges). Open enrollment on the exchanges lasts through March, and the government estimated earlier this year that as many as 7 million people nationwide would enroll in private health insurance plans in that period.

So far, however, reports suggest few people have been able to enroll in plans via HealthCare.gov because of its structural flaws. Mr. Obama on Monday assured the public that his administration has recruited "some of the best IT talent in the entire country" to create a "tech surge" to fix the website.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, are suggesting "political considerations" motivated the White House to ask the contractors building the website to violate OMB-advocated best practices in information technology.

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