Jeff Zients Is Named White House Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON — President Biden said on Friday that Jeffrey D. Zients, who served as the coronavirus response coordinator and a chairman of Mr. Biden’s transition, would take over as the White House chief of staff.

The formal announcement came several days after it was reported that Mr. Zients had been tapped to replace Ron Klain, the longtime Biden adviser and skilled political operative who has served the first two years of the president’s term.

In a statement, Mr. Biden said that “it is important to fill Ron’s shoes with someone who understands what it means to lead a team, and who is as focused on getting things done.”

“I’ve seen Jeff Zients tackle some of the toughest issues in government,” Mr. Biden added.

The president said that the White House would hold a formal event for Mr. Klain next week and “officially welcome Jeff back to the White House in this role.”

When he leaves the White House, Mr. Klain will take with him decades of institutional knowledge about Washington politics, the inner workings of Capitol Hill and the Biden family. In his statement, the president pointed out that he had known Mr. Klain since he was a third-year law student.

Mr. Zients, an entrepreneur who made a fortune by building health care and education consultancies, has a different set of skills: His allies say that he has a keen eye for recruiting talent and that he is adept at coordinating large projects, including overseeing the largest vaccine campaign in U.S. history.

As the White House faces a barrage of attacks from Republicans and shifts toward a probable 2024 campaign, allies say the president is likely to look to Mr. Zients to keep pushing the White House staff to deliver after two years of grinding work and nonstop crises such as a continuing pandemic and a land war in Europe.

While several senior advisers, including Anita Dunn, Steven J. Ricchetti, Mike Donilon, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and Bruce Reed, are expected to oversee political operations, Mr. Zients will be expected to help oversee the implementation of the CHIPS Act, several infrastructure projects and the most significant expansion of veterans’ health care benefits in decades.

“People are tired, they’ve done historic things,” said Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs. And the president, he said, “needs to know that one person is accountable for the effective implementation of big priorities.”

It was Mr. McDonough, who served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff for his second term, who first recruited Mr. Zients to work on fixing the glitch-prone website for Mr. Obama’s health care program.

“He’s not the guy who’s in this for the debate,” Mr. McDonough said of Mr. Zients. “He’s not in this for scoring political points. He’s in it for quality of life and for outcomes.”

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