Customer Experience

OMB Circular A-11 Section 280: The Next Frontier in Government Customer Experience (Part 1 of 3)

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

In June 2018, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued new guidance to federal agencies on incorporating the principles of customer experience as a business discipline into their respective organizations. OMB Circular A-11 Section 280, called “Managing Customer Experience and Service Delivery,” outlines new requirements for High Impact Service Provider (HISP) agencies, and is another step forward for integrating customer experience practices in government. In many ways, the new guidance represents the opening of the next frontier in government customer experience.

First, what is OMB Circular A-11?

OMB Circular A-11 is a 950+ page written document that guides federal agencies on the what, when, and how of conducting the business side of government in a way that is transparent for budgetary and performance reporting. The Circular gets a refresh about once a year. Circular A-11 may not be a page-turner, but if you’re part of the leadership team of almost any government agency, some section will probably impact your agency or job. CFOs, COOs, strategic planning chiefs, budget people, auditors, program managers, deputy chiefs of staff, and others look at OMB Circular A-11 for guidance, guidelines, and requirements.

What is A-11 Section 280?

Section 280 is new in OMB Circular A-11. It is embedded in the portion of A-11 that pertains to strategic planning, and guides agencies on weaving customer experience as a business discipline into the fabric of their cultures. While less rigid than the generally accepted principles and procedures of CFOs, accountants, and auditors, Section 280 moves agency leaders toward widely recognized federal standards for customer experiences.

Which agencies need to comply with OMB Circular A-11 Section 280?

OMB Circular A-11 Section 280 is a guideline for all agencies, and is a requirement for High-Impact Service Provider Agencies.

How much time do you have to comply?

Agencies have some latitude in ramping up. Section 280 calls for HISP agencies to begin compliance “as soon as is practicable.” The first deliverable, a dashboard comprised of mostly prescribed customer experience data, is due to OMB on February 28, 2019 for the quarter ending December 31, 2018. Then, the guidance calls for a quarterly cadence of customer data submissions to OMB.

HISP agencies that aren’t ready yet have to identify a target date for reporting of metrics not to exceed FY 2021, Quarter 1.

Public reporting of customer data will begin in 2019.

Where to find the written guidance?

The best place to look is That’s where you’ll find the guidance, as well as other nuggets of information and resources to 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!

In the next post in this series, we’ll share with you insights and idea-starters on where to start, and how to get the customer experience work done to comply with the spirit of OMB Circular A-11 Section 280.

See how Qualtrics is improving the government experience

Stephanie Thum

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.

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