[Excerpt] In 2004, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), in cooperation with the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) of the United States Department of Labor (DOL), published a methodology for assessing labor rights compliance and other labor market conditions of trading partners of the United States. The methodology includes batteries of Indicators, a matrix instrument, and a database of information sources for applying the Indicators and matrix to particular countries. Social scientists at the University of Michigan pilot-tested and evaluated the NAS methodology, and submitted their findings on February 23, 2009. The Michigan evaluation revealed several areas in which the Indicators, matrix, and database might be refined.
On September 10, 2009, ILAB and this author entered a contract for a research project on Refining the NAS Matrix. The subject of the research proposal is (1) to apply legal and regulatory analysis to formulate a refined body of Indicators dedicated to making determinations whether trading partners are compliant with United States trade legislation and trade agreements, and (2) to canvass alternative methodologies for weighting and aggregating the Indicators. These topics require extended conceptual analysis of various types of indicators, and of the relation between indicators and composite indices measuring compliance with each overall labor right.