Customer Experience

Teaming Up for the Next Frontier in Government Customer Experience: OMB Circular A-11 Section 280 (Part 3 of 3)

Today’s post is the third of a three-part series on OMB’s new guidance to federal agencies on managing customer experience and service delivery.

If you’ve read OMB A-11 Section 280, or perused parts 1 and 2 of our blog series on this topic, it may have become clear that achieving true compliance with the spirit of OMB A-11 Section 280, “Managing Customer Experience and Service Delivery,” isn’t something that just one person can be assigned to do as an add-on to his or her current job responsibilities. It will require partnership and cross-disciplinary collaboration throughout your agency and possibly with external partners.

Still, how you partner up to achieve compliance is up to you; there are no cookie cutter approaches.  It takes time, focus, teamwork, good partners, great counsel, tenacity, and organizational patience. Part of the work to be doing now entails thinking about the range of people and resources you’ll need to tap into regularly for guidance, coordination, and collaboration.

Here are some ideas on where to reach out within your agency to team up.

  1. Strategic planning, evaluations, or performance reporting leader. Customer metrics you’re developing for Section 280 will roll up and out to your agency’s public-facing performance plans and reports. A little bit of homework could go a long way here. Some customer experience metrics or outcome measures may already be in use, which can help you develop the work of Section 280.
  2. Program managers. Program managers now have heightened visibility in agencies, courtesy of the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act of 2016. There could be mutually beneficial synergies here for the purposes of complying with Section 280. Program managers, as a normal course of their work, look to customer input and feedback to help shape their work and decisions. Reach out.
  3. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) liaison. Surveys, focus groups, or any collection of data from the public will need to be in compliance with PRA law. Become friends with your agency’s PRA liaison. If you don’t know who your agency’s PRA liaison is, start by asking in your CIO or records management office.
  4. Communications team. Many agency communication teams have talented writers and journalists on board who know how to write and ask great questions that get to the heart of customers’ experiences with your agency. Alternatively, don’t forget, if you’re using the Qualtrics survey platform, you can also scan our library of questions for additional possibilities that may make sense for your survey.
  5. IT team. Link up with your CIO’s office and relevant IT and program management teams. In a past life I worked with my agency’s IT team to integrate PRA-approved point-of-service customer surveys into the application process of our high-volume transaction workflows.
  6. Existing governance committees. Partner with existing committees to share customer experience results across the organization. In my past life, an operations review committee triaged CX operational data every week, a senior team reviewed customer wait times and customer effort scores every week, and an external advisory team reviewed annual relationship survey results.
  7. Credentialed external providers. Look for partners with intuitive platforms, secure credentials, and experts on staff who understand the path you’re walking with gathering internal teams, working through PRA, and your CX work in general. 

Getting started

OMB Circular A-11 Section 280 is intended to be a guideline for all federal agencies, and is a requirement for High-Impact Service Provider Agencies. The first public reporting of agency customer data for Circular A-11 Section 280 is anticipated in February 2019. If you’re just getting started, the best place to look for information and resources is That’s where you’ll find the new guidance, as well as other nuggets of information that can help.

Reach out to the Federal team at Qualtrics for information and insights. Keep watching Qualtrics’ website for information on upcoming training on the concepts and principles of customer experience as a business discipline. We’re here to help!

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Author Bio: Stephanie Thum is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and Chief Advisor for Federal Customer Experience at Qualtrics. In a past life, Stephanie was the head of CX for a federal government agency where she built a CX program that included customer surveys, executive councils, employee engagement, and data governance practices. She was also responsible for coordinating her agency’s public-facing annual performance plan and report, based on OMB Circular A-11. She is formally trained in strategic planning for government organizations and in planning, budgeting, and performance reporting for government organizations.

Stephanie Thum

Stephanie Thum is a contributor to the Qualtrics blog.

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