ILAB closely monitors the performance of our projects, assesses their effectiveness, and ensures good stewardship of public funds. Our projects begin by developing a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Plan, which defines the intended project objectives and outcomes and establishes metrics for measuring achievement.

Independent external evaluators and auditors review project performance and compliance with required regulations at various stages during project implementation. We work in collaboration with our implementers to address any challenges identified and maximize project success. These assessments help both ILAB and our implementers to improve current projects and to implement effective approaches in future projects. ILAB also funds other evaluation and research projects for enhanced learning and to improve future project design.


ILAB facilitates the development of project monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plans for ILAB-funded projects to track project results and inform project management. ILAB develops these M&E plans jointly with project implementers. They are grounded in results-based management, complexity-aware M&E, and systems thinking principles that guide the process of monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on project progress. The M&E plan serves as a resource for projects and for DOL for evidence-based project management, learning, decision-making, collaboration, adaptation, and accountability. Several independent program evaluations and independent reviews have noted that ILAB-funded projects’ M&E plans are effective project management tools that help to build stakeholder buy-in for project activities and results given their active participation in the development and implementation of the M&E plan. ILAB also uses third-party audits and attestation engagements as monitoring and oversight tools to ensure the accuracy of performance and financial data, and as an opportunity to work with grantees to improve project management and outcomes.

M&E Quick Links


ILAB's approach to evaluation aligns with the principles outlined in DOL's Evaluation Policy, the Evidence Act, and the Foreign Affairs Transparency and Accountability Act. ILAB commissions performance evaluations at least once in most projects' lifetime and uses different evaluation criteria to assess the projects. These criteria include relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, sustainability, impact, and equity. ILAB also supports rigorous impact evaluations to increase knowledge and understanding of the effectiveness of various government and non-government programs and interventions in reducing child labor, forced labor or human trafficking. ILAB has supported impact evaluation research, including 18 randomized control trial impact evaluations – a type of evaluation that provides rigorous evidence about what works, and what does not work, in achieving intended outcomes. Finally, ILAB invests in multi-project, thematic, sectoral, synthesis, and meta evaluations to further ILAB learning priorities and ensure our policies and programs are designed with the best evidence available.

Evaluation Quick Links:


ILAB invests in primary research and research tools to increase the global knowledge base on the prevalence, nature, and scope of child labor and forced labor. We use these studies to inform policy engagement and technical cooperation; provide insight into the nature of exploitation, risk factors, and practices that increase workers' vulnerability; and increase countries' and researchers' capacity to generate robust data. ILAB has also supported the establishment of global estimates on child labor and forced labor, which serve as the worldwide standard for measuring progress on these issues. Some of ILAB’s technical assistance projects are supporting action research on occupational safety and health, particularly in agro-export sectors, as well as other labor rights issues affecting workers in global supply chains. ILAB also invests in policy-focused research to understand what works to advance labor rights, including freedom of association, non-discrimination, occupational safety and health, and other acceptable conditions of work such as wages and working hours.


ILAB promotes a culture of learning and continuous improvement and employs various methods to ensure that good practices and lessons learned from monitoring and evaluation activities are documented, shared, and considered in the development of new programming. ILAB facilitates opportunities for reflection and discussion on evaluation findings and publishes all evaluation reports on our website. ILAB also contributes to DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office’s five-year learning agenda, which identifies priority questions, proposes ideas for future research or evaluation studies, and describes current evidence-related activities. Read more about DOL’s evidence building and evaluation capacity assessments on CEO’s Evidence-Building webpage.

Synthesis and Thematic Evaluations

OCFT Synthesis Report (2019)
This is a synthesis review of 31 final performance evaluation reports from 2014-2018 for the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking (OCFT) programming. The performance evaluations represent multiple regions including 64 countries and were broadly aimed at reducing exploitative child labor (over 90% of those reviewed).  The projects generally targeted children and youth engaged in or at risk of child labor and adult members of their households. This report was conducted by a third-party contractor, IMPAQ International LLC, and contains emerging good practices, lessons learned and key insights for future programming.

OTLA Synthesis Evaluation Report (2020)
This report for the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) identifying trends and patterns in the findings from 19 labor law enforcement and compliance projects across 12 countries and 5 regions from 2016-2020. The most common target sector highlighted was the ready-made garment (RMG) industry. The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Solidarity Center (SC) were the primary implementers of 15 of the 19 projects.  This report was conducted by a third-party contractor, Mathematica, and contains emerging good practices, lessons learned and key insights for future programming.

OCFT Cocoa/Fishing Synthesis Report (2022)
This report for the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking (OCFT) includes the review of 19 performance evaluations on projects in the cocoa and fishing/seafood sectors between 1999 and 2021. The 9 cocoa projects were concentrated in West Africa and the 10 fishing/seafood projects were concentrated in Southeast Asia. This report was conducted by a third-party contractor, Mathematica, and contains emerging good practices, lessons learned and key insights for future programming.

OCFT Cocoa/Fishing Synthesis Summary Brief (2022)
This summary is a 6-page document highlighting the overall findings of project evaluations in the OCFT Cocoa/Fishing Synthesis Report (2022) and findings specific to each of these sectors.

ECMS Thematic Evaluation (2021)
This is an external evaluation carried out in 2021 of the labor inspectorate electronic case management system (ECMS) components of 7 ILAB-funded projects (in Colombia, Honduras, Paraguay, Philippines, Peru, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam). The purpose of the thematic evaluation was to assess the achievements, challenges, and sustainability of the ECMS components of those projects. The primary audiences for this evaluation are ILAB personnel, Grantees, and labor stakeholders in the seven countries, as well as in other countries interested in establishing or strengthening ECMS capabilities for more effective labor administration.

Synthesis of ILO Performance Evaluations in Armenia, Guatemala and Vietnam (2023)
This infographic synthesizes evaluation results from ILAB-funded ILO projects aimed at strengthening labor administration and improving working conditions in Armenia, Guatemala, and Vietnam. The evaluations were conducted by a 3rd party contractor, Sistemas, Familia y Sociedad, in 2022-2023.

Thematic Analysis of Worker Empowerment and Workers' Voice, Equity, Gender, and Sustainability from Four Evaluations OF OTLA AND OCFT Projects (2023)
This Thematic Analysis covers five ILAB-funded projects - Better Work Ethiopia implemented by the International Labor Organization (ILO), Better Work Haiti implemented by the ILO, All Hands in Kenya implemented by the ILO, CAPSA in Kenya and Uganda implemented by the ILO, and Palma Futuro in Colombia and Ecuador implemented by the Partners of the Americas. The Thematic Analysis is based on findings from four evaluation reports conducted by Integra and Dexis and monitoring and evaluation data for the five projects selected for this review. Further insights were generated in learning events that included participation of ILAB staff and the grantees, respectively.

Cross Program Evaluation of Effects of COVID-19 on ILAB Projects

Thematic case studies:

  1. Going Virtual
    The theme of case study #1 is taking training virtual and the efforts to prevent child labor among children that were more vulnerable to exploitative circumstances when schools closed during COVID-19. It comprises 3 projects concluded between 2021-2023 in Honduras and El Salvador, Ghana, and Mexico and addresses best practices and long-term viability challenges of hybrid models.  
  2. From Lemons to Lemonade: Finding Creative Solutions to COVID-19 Related Challenges
    Case study #2 covers 3 projects in Colombia, Myanmar, and Central America (Honduras and El Salvador) and finding strategies to pivot when faced with challenges from COVID-19, such as partnering with various organizations to source bikes to women for transportation, providing additional training for youth to sew masks, and creating home gardens.
  3. Adaptive Management to Prioritize Safety and Success
    Case study #3 focused on projects with efforts to combat child labor, forced labor and human trafficking and the pivots needed during COVID-19 when safety measures were imposed, travel restrictions increased, and governments had varying levels of guidance and restrictions.
  4. Data Collection
    Case study #4 was completed for 2 projects in Colombia and Mexico and shows that collecting data, tracking indicators, and monitoring progress are crucial elements of a successful program, especially when limitations were encountered from COVID-19.
  5. New Tools
    Case study #5 was a project for supporting women entrepreneurs without resorting to child labor or harmful labor practices globally (El Salvador and the Philippines as pilots).
  6. Capitalizing on Emerging Opportunities in a Virtual Environment
    Case study #6 includes Mexico, Peru, and Georgia and projects aimed at strengthening labor law enforcement by engaging workers, civil society organizations, governments, and employers.
  7. Renewed Commitment to Social Protections for Factory Workers in the Garment Industry
    Case study #7 focused on the Better Work Project to improve working conditions in global textiles and apparel supply chains and shifting to a hybrid service model to meet the demands of local markets in over 9 countries.

Meta-Evaluation of Labor Rights-Related Outcomes

Report Brief
Infographic Summary

Meta-Evaluation of Labor Rights-Related Outcomes – Options Paper
This 65-page options paper summarizes results from a meta-evaluation of outcome achievement of labor rights-related projects in relation to scope, cost, and time frame factors. The purpose of the meta-evaluation was to inform technical assistance project design, with a focus on i) the types and levels of labor rights outcomes that can be achieved within timeframe and budget; ii) the context for labor rights outcome achievement; and iii) sustainability. The options paper highlights key trends and patterns that emerged after analyzing close to 100 evaluations of labor rights-related projects across various donor organizations including the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and International Labor Organization (ILO), among others. The meta-evaluation was conducted by a 3rd party contractor, QED Group LLC dba Q2 Impact, in 2022-2023.