"I mean let's be clear, if there's one thing the White House didn't do on this, they didn't micro-manage bureaucracy enough," he said. Referring to Zients' announcement Sunday of a vastly improved management ethos, Gibbs said. "The 'private-sector velocity' should also include the velocity of moving somebody's framed pictures out of their office and into a new job."
If the past five years are any guide, Obama will not move quickly to ask for resignations. Just a handful of those who serve as the pleasure of the president have been forced to resign. And aides say Obama has never been easily swayed by public and media eagerness for more heads to roll.
"Issues on personnel are not something that we're focused on right now, when it comes to making the Affordable Care Act work for the American people," White House press secretary Jay Carney told ABC's Jonathan Karl on Monday.
"We're focused not on Monday morning quarterbacking," he said. "We'll go back and look at this period, and there's no question that, you know, [the president] tops the list among those individuals who are frustrated by the failures that we saw with healthcare.gov and its launch. But right now, he wants his team focused on making improvements for the American people."
Asking in an interview last month whether he still has confidence in Sebelius, Obama signaled -- though did not say outright -- that he does, taking responsibility for the program's failures upon himself.
"I think Kathleen Sebelius, under tremendously difficult circumstances over the last four and a half years, has done a great job in setting up the insurance markets so that there is a good product out there for people to get," Obama told NBC News.
"Kathleen Sebelius doesn't write code. Yeah, she wasn't our IT person. I think she'd be the first to admit that if we had to do it all over again, that there would have been a whole lot more questions that were asked, in terms of how this thing is working," he said. "Ultimately, the buck stops with me."
As for Zients, who is credited with largely resolving the management issues, he is still expected to step down from his role later this month to replace Gene Sperling as the chair of the National Economic Council in January. No successor to Zients has been named.
"I am head-down focused on this project 24/7," he said. "The general contractor and rapid response team have served us well, enabling us to execute with private sector speed and focus. ... They've been in seat, and they'll stay in seat."