APPAM is a nonprofit corporation chartered in Washington, DC and recognized as tax-exempt by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Founded in 1979, APPAM incorporated in 1999 under the laws of Washington, District of Columbia. The association is governed by its elected  Policy Council (board of directors) and its  membership. The Executive Committee of the Policy Council, consisting of the eight elected officers along with the editor of the  Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (ex officio non-voting) and the APPAM executive director (ex officio non-voting) are empowered to act on behalf of the Policy Council in certain instances.

The membership meets annually to approve election ballots for the Policy Council, receive financial reports, and raise any issues of concern. APPAM has a standing  Committee of Institutional Representatives for the purpose of representing the interests of the institutional members. That committee elects several members of the Policy Council and has adopted formal procedures for operation.