Bill Daley: Contractors "have a lot more say" than White House on big projects

The White House has been defending the president through a rough week by saying he didn't know about some of the administration's troubles until they spilled into the public. That made us ask: What should the president know and when should he know it?

We asked CBS News contributor Bill Daley, who is a former Commerce Secretary and was more recently the gatekeeper for the president as White House Chief of Staff from 2011-2012.

Scott Pelley: Now that we've seen all the testing of the Affordable Care Act computer system that crashed before October 1st, the White House says the president didn't know any of that was happening. How does the president not know about these things?

Bill Daley: There is so much information that comes into the White House. And it seems as this continues to roll out that very few people knew, if anyone knew, the breadth of this challenge. And so, so why would you to the bring it to the president? Well, if the White House staff really didn't know how bad it was, and my sense is that's probably the case, then you wouldn't say to the president, "oh, we think this is screwed up."

Scott Pelley: At what point does the president say, "This is the most important thing my administration has ever done. We're gonna roll this computer system out on October 1st. This better go well."

Bill Daley: The biggest challenge in any White House is the myriad of issues and the numbers that come before you. So it doesn't surprise me that it's not in some neat, little wrapped-up package to be decided whether it's working or not.

Scott Pelley: I wonder why the president finds himself in this position now.

Bill Daley: The idea that the president's like a CEO, and he should be managing, that's crazy. It's not the reality. It's not the way this government is working and has worked for a number of years. But when you take a major project like this -- the rollout of ACA and the contracting process to get to that. So that management that should come from the top of that agency -- is nowhere near as -- as it would be in an organization like CBS.

Scott Pelley: Contractors run America?

Bill Daley: On major projects, the contractors and the people who put the plans together for the contracts to bid on have a lot more say than anybody sitting at the White House, any White House.

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Scott Pelley: When you were chief of staff, were you frustrated by the amount of information that came up to you? Were you frustrated that you couldn't get information that you asked for?

Bill Daley: First of all you get enormous amounts of information and you really sometimes get overwhelmed by it. I think people underestimate the impact that our new social media and new world of information is creating for government to operate. You almost are not allowed anymore to say, "You know what? Let me check into that and get back to you." If you don't know why that website is not working, somehow, that's bad management, and you're an idiot, okay? That's the way it is. And-- and that's very difficult to run government that way.

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