Providing Data for the PPI

Once an establishment agrees to participate in the survey, the BLS field economist records the product or service descriptions and terms of transactions which are to be priced through time, as well as the designated reporting official's contact information on the PPI Survey Initiation Checklist (BLS Form 1810E). At this time, the respondent is set up for providing updated data over the BLS secure survey website. Submitting data through the BLS secure website is the PPI´s primary method of requesting and obtaining updated data from respondents; it is also the fastest and most secure way to transmit data. (Click here for a demonstration of the BLS secure survey website.) However, as a fallback, data may be submitted by returning a customized PPI Monthly Repricing Form (BLS Form 473P) by mail or fax. All the information provided during initiation is entered in the secure PPI database and later reviewed by BLS staff to ensure consistency and completeness.

Note to current survey respondents: BLS is in the process of converting current survey respondents who are reporting via fax or mail to using the BLS secure website. BLS is using a systematic process in which respondents are contacted on a flow basis over the next year to get them set up for use of the website. If you have not been contacted yet and would prefer to switch over to processing your periodic updates over the website now, please follow the instructions for contacting the economist responsible for your industry found on the respondent contacts page.

Requests for price data are sent to the reporting official on the agreed-upon schedule—usually monthly—to obtain updated information. Data provided over the BLS secure website are automatically transmitted into the PPI database. Repricing forms returned by respondents who are only able to report via mail or fax are scanned by an optical character reader which logs the essential data elements from each form, inputting them into the database. All reported data that include changes to item descriptions, changes to transaction terms, or large price changes are referred to PPI economists for review. Each respondent has an assigned PPI economist to assist them in their survey participation, as well as provide general assistance with PPI data, as requested.

These steps make possible the collection and processing of the current prices of more than 100,000 items, as well as any changes in the price-determining characteristics of those items, for inclusion in PPIs. Using data verified in the previous steps, the PPI's electronic estimation system then calculates indexes. Finally, a variety of outputs are generated for the online database and statistical tables are created and verified.

Automated data-processing systems facilitate the accuracy and timeliness of published PPI data and protect the confidentiality of data supplied by respondents. The publication of company-specific data in identifiable form is prohibited in the statistical and research work of the BLS. Data from firms participating in the PPI survey are protected to ensure the respondent’s confidentiality even within the BLS, so that only those staff members with an absolute need to know can identify a respondent. Furthermore, the BLS has publication criteria that prevent the inadvertent revelation of a respondent’s identity to the public through movements in a published index.


Last Modified Date: September 28, 2012