Staffing Data Submission Payroll Based Journal (PBJ)

Staffing Data Submission Payroll Based Journal (PBJ)

Now available! Our new Provider Data Catalog makes it easier for you to search & download our publicly reported data. We’ve also improved Medicare’s compare sites.

Please check the “Updates” section at the bottom of this webpage periodically for updates on the latest activities.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has long identified staffing as one of the vital components of a nursing home’s ability to provide quality care. CMS has utilized staffing data for a myriad of purposes in an effort to more accurately and effectively gauge its impact on quality of care in nursing homes. We post staffing information on the CMS Nursing Home Compare website and it is used in the Nursing Home Five Star Quality Rating System to help consumers understand the level and differences of staffing in nursing homes.  

Section 6106 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires facilities to electronically submit direct care staffing information (including agency and contract staff) based on payroll and other auditable data. The data, when combined with census information, can then be used to report on the level of staff in each nursing home, as well as employee turnover and tenure, which can impact the quality of care delivered.

Therefore, CMS has developed a system for facilities to submit staffing information – Payroll Based Journal (PBJ). This system allows staffing information to be collected on a regular and more frequent basis than previously collected. It is auditable to ensure accuracy. All long term care facilities have access to this system at no cost. Information on registration and training is available in the Downloads section of this page below.

The first mandatory reporting period began July 1, 2016. Submissions must be received by the end of the 45th calendar day (11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time) after the last day in each fiscal quarter to be considered timely.

Below are the deadlines for each reporting period:





October 1 –December 31

February 14


January 1 –March 31

May 15


April 1 –June 30

August 14


July 1 –September 30

November 14

This webpage provides information on how data is collected and who to contact for questions. The information posted below is the first step in implementing section 6106 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and focuses on the type of data that is collected, and how the data is submitted to CMS. November 1, 2017, CMS began posting a public use file containing PBJ staffing data submitted by long term care facilities. The file includes the hours nursing staff are paid to work each day, for each facility. The categories of nursing staff include director of nursing, registered nurses with administrative duties, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses with administrative duties, licensed practical nurses, certified nurse aides, medication aides, and nurse aides in training. The file also includes a facility’s census for each day within the quarter as calculated using the minimum data set (MDS) submission. The PBJ public use file is available at For more information, please see Survey and Certification memorandum SC 17-45.

PBJ Policy Information:

The following files contain policy information related to the PBJ and are now available under the Downloads section of this page:

  • PBJ Policy Manual – Provides general background and information about the submission requirements, such as sample submission screens, submission deadlines, and definitions of job categories
  • PBJ Policy Manual Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • PBJ Summary Presentation

Changes made to the Policy Manual and FAQ document are indicated in red text.

Questions regarding the PBJ policy information should be directed to

PBJ Technical Information:

The following PBJ technical items are available under the Downloads section of this page:

  • PBJ Errata V4.00.1 for PBJ Data Submission Specifications (V4.00.0) 04-16-2020
  • PBJ 4.00.0 Submission Specs for the January 7, 2020 Release
  • NHPBJ XSD File 4.00.0 (submit Employee and Staffing data)
  • PBJ Admin Excel to XML Template V.1.00.0 (ZIP)’
  • PBJ Excel to XML Template - An Excel template is available in the Download section to convert valid PBJ Excel data to 4.00.0 format

The Data Submission specifications consist of the following technical information: 

  1.  PBJ Data Specs PDF files ZIP – Full Data Specs report and the Unduplicated Edits report, as well as the Overview document.
  2.  PBJ Data Dictionary ZIP – The Access database used to maintain the items and edits, as well as generate the reports.
  3.  PBJ Data Specs CSV files ZIP – Comma-separated value files of the items and item values.
  4.  PBJ Data Specs HTML files ZIP – Set of HTML files that can be used to navigate the items and edits in a browser.

Questions regarding the PBJ Data Specifications should be directed to  Software developers or vendors that provide services such as automated payroll or time and attendance systems that will support electronic submissions should use this address.  In an effort to serve you better, we are offering voluntary vendor registration at This information will be used to contact you with important PBJ news, updates, and conference call information.

Please note that CMS may not provide an individualized response to each inquiry; however, CMS will address all applicable issues and comments through Open Door Forums, training sessions, vendor calls, or updates to the information provided on this page.


April 16, 2020

4.00.0 fileSpecVersion

CMS is delaying the previously communicated June 1, 2020 date for rejecting PBJ fileSpecVersions 2.00.0 and 2.00.3. The PBJ system will continue to accept PBJ fileSpecVersions 2.00.0, 2.00.3 and 4.00.0 until further notice from CMS. Details can be found in the Downloads Section below, see the following document: Errata V4.00.1 for PBJ Data Submission Specifications (V4.00.0) 04-16-2020.

January 9, 2020

A revised version of the PBJ Data Specifications (Version 4.00.0) is available to Users. The new release of the Data Specifications reconciles changes to the file layout, fileSpecVersion 4.00.0. Census tags have been removed from the 4.00.0 version due to CMS no longer collecting Census data from PBJ as of April, 2018. No immediate changes are needed when using the current PBJ Submission File fileSpecVersions (2.00.0 and 2.00.3), however, Users are encouraged to begin using PBJ fileSpecVersion 4.00.0.  XML files submitted with versions other than 4.00.0 on or after June 2, 2020 will be rejected. Please note this does not apply to the PBJ Administration Submission File format. Users who use this file format for linking employees should continue to use fileSpecVersion 1.00.0.

The new 4.00.0 fileSpecVersion and PBJ Data Specifications can be located in the Downloads section at the bottom of this page.  For those that use the Excel template to generate XML files, a new template can be found in the Downloads section below.

April 18, 2019

A revised version of the PBJ Data Specifications (Version 3.01.0), PBJ User Guide and PBJ CASPER Reports User Guide are available. The Data Specifications are below and the User Guides can be found on the QTSO website at

As of April 18, 2019, XML files containing census data no longer have the census records uploaded to PBJ. There are no technical changes required to the XML file layout.

As a reminder, Users are strongly encouraged to take additional steps after uploading their data to ensure a successful submission. Therefore, the following verbiage will appear upon uploading data to reflect the recommended next steps:

  1. Check the My Submissions page. This feature will show the status of the zip file.
  2. Check CASPER for a system generated PBJ Final File Validation Report within 24 hours. If no FFVR appears, run a PBJ Submitter Final File Validation Report to check your file for errors.
  3. Run the PBJ 1702D (by Employer) or 1703D (by Job Type) Reports to verify the quarterly PBJ data reflects your records.
  4. For additional assistance contact the QIES Help desk at

March 3, 2019

As of March 3, 2019, the link to the PBJ Census Page for Manual Data Entry is longer available. In April, 2018, CMS began using resident census data derived from MDS assessments. Therefore, the PBJ submission of census data will no longer be used.

December 7, 2018

The “PBJ Policy Manual (V2.5) 11-19-2018” and “PBJ Policy Manual FAQ 11-19-2018” have been updated to provide expanded guidance on the meal break policy and reporting hours for “Universal Care Workers”. Changes are indicated in red text. Please note these are not policy changes.  We are clarifying previously issued policy guidance based on questions and feedback received from providers. The documents can be found in the Downloads section below.

Two new CASPER reports are now available for providers to help ensure data is submitted accurately. The reports are:

1704S Daily MDS Census Summary Report:  Allows users to retrieve the daily MDS-based resident census (i.e., count of residents) for each day in a quarter.

1704D Daily MDS Census Detail Report: Allows users to retrieve a list of the residents that the MDS-based census is comprised of on a given date or dates.

More information on these reports can be found at:

The information listed below under the "Downloads" section is subject to change.  CMS will communicate any changes to these materials on this page, as well as through Open Door Forums hosted by CMS.

Page Last Modified:
09/06/2023 04:57 PM