This study examines management control systems (Mcss) in the Italian Public Sector in a context of relevant change. Since the beginning of the 90s Italian central government has been trying to incorporate managerial elements in public sector life, for shifting its bureaucratic structures towards more customer oriented, leaner organisations; one of these elements are Mcss. A legislative decree of 1999, in particular, claimed Mcss revision and the introduction of comprehensive control structure. Three years after the approval of this decree the paper tackles this issue analysing the problem of Mcss implementation and proposing a model targeted on the specific needs of these organisations. The paper is structured in three stages, an exploring phase, the theoretical definition of a tailored Mcs and its testing in three organisations. The study suggests a definition of Mcs starting from activities. Their characteristics can be combined to constitute four distinct types, which are the basis for building the Mcs. The application appeared consistent to public managers, but the lack of commitment limited its use as an instrument of change.