GCOS is directed by its Steering Committee which provides guidance, coordination and oversight to the programme. The three science panels report to the Steering Committee.
The GCOS Steering Committee consists of up to sixteen scientific and technical experts selected on the basis of their personal expertise. The Chairs of standing GCOS panels are members ex officio. The Steering Committee is appointed jointly by the Executive Heads of the GCOS sponsoring organizations by mutual consent.
The Steering Committee membership is geographically balanced. Major operational and research observing programmes contributing to GCOS are represented, as well as an appropriate mix of disciplines in atmospheric, oceanic, hydrological, cryospheric and biospheric sciences.