ICPSR is governed by a 12-person Council whose members are elected by the members of ICPSR. Council members serve four-year terms, and six new Council members are elected every two years. The Council acts on administrative, budgetary, and organizational issues on behalf of all the members of ICPSR.
Much of the Council oversight is exercised through five standing committees: Budget and Policy, Collection Development, Membership and Marketing, Preservation and Access, and Training and Instruction.
The Council's work is supplemented by advisory committees of leading scholars who help ICPSR address needs in special fields. Advisory committees have been formed to guide the consortium in census data, American politics, comparative politics, gerontology, economics, and many other fields. Advisory committees have helped establish policies in data processing priorities, summer curriculum development, and technology planning.