Studies the operation and effectiveness of four mechanisms that HEW requires educational institutions to administer to ensure nondiscrimination against women and the handicapped. The institutions must file formal assurance of compliance with federal guarantees, conduct self-evaluations, appoint a compliance coordinator, and establish formal grievance procedures. The report concludes that three of the four mechanisms are making positive contributions to local change processes, and that redesign would render the fourth (assurance of compliance) effective. The report recommends ways to enhance those contributions, the common theme being the importance of local actions. The federal government can reinforce local actions by clarifying regulations and alerting the public to the opportunities for local accountability that the mechanisms provide.