Welcome to the e-version of the USAID Evaluation Toolkit!

The Evaluation Toolkit:

  • Curates the latest USAID guidance, tools, and templates for initiating, planning, managing, and learning from evaluations primarily for USAID staff members who are involved in any phase of the evaluation process.
  • Is a resource for USAID staff members and external contractors who participate in or conduct evaluations for USAID.

How to Use this E-Toolkit:

The Toolkit is organized according to the USAID Program Cycle and the phases of an evaluation.

Section 1: Evaluation at USAID (overview of evaluation and the policy context for evaluation at USAID)

Section 2: Evaluation Throughout the Program Cycle (when it is required or encouraged to plan, use, or report on evaluations)

Sections 3 through 5: Phases of an Individual Evaluation

  • Section 3: Planning (from deciding to evaluate to procuring an evaluation)
  • Section 4: Managing an Evaluation
  • Section 5: Sharing, Reporting, Using, and Learning from an Evaluation

Section Organization

  • Brief narrative introduces the general requirements and important considerations.
  • Sub-thematic areas are listed on the left-hand side and go more in-depth into specific areas or processes.
  • Core resources (1) provide further guidance on specific requirements and processes; (2) describe best practices; and (3) offer templates and other tools.
  • Additional links that provide easy access to USAID reference documents, reports, and webinars that go into specific evaluation issues in greater depth, and non-USAID resources that may be useful during the evaluation life cycle.

A few resources and additional links are available only to USAID staff. These are indicated by a designation of USAID only.


This Toolkit was developed by the Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning Office of Learning, Evaluation, and Research (PPL/LER). Many USAID and USAID contractor staff—from the field and Washington—provided content, comments, feedback, and insights into this Evaluation Toolkit. Their contributions have been and continue to be essential to the ongoing development of this Toolkit.

1. Evaluation Policy at USAID

Evaluation at USAID is defined as the systematic collection and analysis of data and information about the characteristics and outcomes of one or more organizations, policies, programs, strategies, projects, and/or activities as a basis for judgments to understand and improve effectiveness and efficiency, timed to inform decisions about current and future programming. Evaluation is distinct from assessment (which is forward-looking) or an informal review of projects (ADS 201). It is also distinct from performance monitoring, which is an ongoing and systematic collection of performance indicator data and other quantitative or qualitative information to reveal whether implementation is on track and whether expected results are being achieved.

The purpose of evaluations is twofold: to ensure accountability to stakeholders and to learn to improve development outcomes. The subject of a USAID evaluation may include any level of USAID programming, from a policy to a strategy to a project, individual award, activity, intervention, or even cross-cutting programmatic priority. 

USAID Automated Directives System (ADS) 201 and its associated references provide the foundation for all USAID guidance on evaluation at USAID.

As noted in ADS, evaluations at USAID should be:

  • Integrated into the Design of Strategies, Projects, and Activities
  • Unbiased in Measurement and Reporting, Independent, and Objective
  • Relevant and Useful 
  • Based on Best Methods of Appropriate Rigor
  • Oriented toward Reinforcing Local Ownership and National Self-Reliance
  • Transparent
  • Conducted According to the Highest Ethical Standards

Additional Link

2. Evaluation Throughout the Program Cycle

The USAID Program Cycle is a common set of processes intended to achieve more effective development interventions and to maximize impacts.

Program Cycle Graphic. Concentric circles show the components of the Program Cycle and additional information on how evaluation fits within those components is provided.

Evaluations may be planned, conducted, or utilized at any stage in the Program Cycle. This section addresses the various, formal stages of the Program Cycle at which Missions or Washington OUs are required or encouraged to consider whether it would be appropriate to plan for, conduct, or learn from an evaluation.