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Photo: WSJ.com

Who is Jeff Zients?

Jeff Zients is Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Prior to his appointment, Zients twice served as the acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from January 2012 to April 2013, and from June to October 2010. In 2009, he was confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Director for OMB, and was appointed by President Obama to the newly created position of United States Chief Performance Officer. Zients also managed the 2013 Tech Surge of Healthcare.gov, according to Obamawhitehouse.archives.

Biden’s Coronavirus Czar

Jeffrey Zients is President-elect Joe Biden's choice to be the White House coronavirus coordinator, or "czar," a source familiar tells CNN. Zients, a top economic adviser under President Barack Obama and a co-chair of Biden's transition team, was widely expected to get this appointment. The announcement is expected to be formally made in the coming days, Edition.CNN noted.

Huge challenges ahead

Mr. Zients publicly committed to operations working smoothly by late November and made the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversaw the ACA implementation, accountable by holding regular press briefings, said Andy Slavitt, who served as the agency’s acting administrator during the Obama administration.

When he was focused on HealthCare.gov, Mr. Zients realized many contractors were working on different parts of the platform rather than working together. He selected a single general contractor, QSSI, a division of UnitedHealthGroup, even though the decision risked the ire of other vendors, WSJ reported.

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Photo: CNN.com
By the time he starts as President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus czar, an estimated 400,000 people in the U.S. could be dead from the pandemic. Millions of vaccine doses will need to be administered by states, and the nation will remain split over the best way to confront the virus.

Mr. Zients also lacks public-health experience, raising concerns among some in Congress, though his position won’t require Senate confirmation. Mr. Zients declined to comment, according to a spokesman with the Biden transition team. Supporters say critics should look at his success stabilizing HealthCare.gov as evidence he can make strides in corralling the pandemic.

Mr. Zients had no experience in the technology industry, having worked primarily in management consulting before joining government. But, as will be the case when he takes his new job in January, there was a need to act quickly. Scores of people were unable to create an application on HealthCare.gov, and there was a narrow window for them to sign up. The federal government had spent more than $80 million, and additional costs were adding up.

Career path

Prior to joining the Administration, Zients spent 20 years in the private sector as a CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur. His expertise in business strategy, process reengineering and financial management extends across a range of industries and geographies. Zients served as CEO and Chairman of The Advisory Board Company and Chairman of the Corporate Executive Board, both leading providers of performance benchmarking and best practices across a wide range of industries, assisting senior executives at over 5,000 businesses to improve the efficiency of their operations. Zients began his career in management consulting where he focused on developing strategies and improving operations of Fortune 1000 companies.

Zients has previously served as a board member of institutions including Children’s National Medical Center, Sirius XM Radio, Revolution Health Group, and Timbuk2 Designs.

Zients is a co-founder of The Urban Alliance Foundation, a non-profit organization that partners with corporations to provide economically disadvantaged youth with year-round paid internships, adult mentors and job training. He graduated summa cum laude from Duke University.

Private life

Wife: Mary Menell Zients

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Photo: Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov

Ms. Zients is a founding board member of City Year South Africa, a youth service community program in Johannesburg and also the chair of the committee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund-USA, a founding member of the Urban Alliance Foundation (UA, 1996) and currently serves as board chair.

Ms. Zients was nominated by President Obama to chair the Commission on White House Fellows in December, 2013. In addition, she is the President of the board of Maret School.

Ms. Zients is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated from Harvard College with a B.A. in Social Studies in 1985 and received a Master of Science in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics in 1986. She lives with her husband Jeff Zients and their four children in Washington, D.C.


Mr. Zients is a father of four children who lives in Washington, D.C. He lifts weights and enjoys a good bagel; he is a co-owner of Call Your Mother, a popular deli.

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