The OCI was controlled by the Botchok Planetary Congress (BPC), and primarily by delegates from the 'Big Four' nation-states of Botchok: Kulian, Mazak, Tipot, and Yuin. It was the BPC's main tool for wielding power over the Orion Colonies, especially after contact and trade with the Federation gave it an excuse to interfere in Colonial affairs to "keep the peace".
The external operations of the BPC and the OCI involved playing a delicate game balancing the three neighbouring superpowers of the Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire, to preserve their security, neutrality and the continued existence of the Orion Colonies. If one ever gained an advantage and war broke out, the end result would inevitably the absorption of the Rigel system and Orion space by one of the powers, and the downfall of Orion civilization.
Internally, one of the OCI’s functions was to settle disputes within the Orion Colonies, usually collecting under-the-table 'settlement' fees from parties in the process. This money formed a sizeable proportion of the BPC’s funding, and though the Colonies resented this blackmail and extortion, but they usually coughed up when the OCI and BPC had evidence against them. Refusal could result in a Starfleet investigation into a hidden base or secret mission.
Orion spies were plentiful on Botchok and around the Orion Colonies and elsewhere, and at every level of Orion society. A Starfleet Intelligence report in the late 23rd century estimated that the BPC’s budget could fund up to 19,000 OCI agents. However, a similar study claimed that five times as many spies were operating on Botchok alone. (The report when unreleased by the Federation, with claims that the numbers were "grossly miscalculated".)
A secret and bitter war of information and diplomacy was waged between the homeworld of Botchok and the Colonies, with the goal of determining who could influence Orion destiny. The Colonials combated the OCI by attempting to expose the spies in their organisations, though with little success. Some tried threatening the BPC, but any serious attempt was likely to gain them enmity of every other Orion and Starfleet-borne retaliation. They were distrustful rivals who were willing to sell each other out to the highest bidders.
It usually made use of disinformation, through either its own intelligence information or those intercepted from another government. With the right phrasing, a news item could be twisted to serve another purpose. Though the OCI paid close attention to its sources and stories, and never acted on only a single piece of intelligence, it was not immune to this kind of deception. Occasionally, its rivals would do the same and feed false reports back through various sources, to manipulate the BPC or trace the flow of information through suspected spies. Orion diplomacy and espionage was a confusing and dangerous experience, full of cliques and factions, information and misinformation. Operatives could be killed for telling the wrong kinds of lies.
The OCI was sometimes aided by the Orion Space Navy, who would launch secret missions into neighbouring territories and sensitive worlds to transport agents and gather intelligence data. (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)