Purpose - This study examines the association between the use of a package of contemporary and a package of traditional management accounting practices with organizational change and organizational performance. Methodology/approach - Data were collected based on a mail survey distributed to a sample of 740 public sector organizations. Findings - The findings indicate that while the prevalence of traditional practices is still dominant, such practices were not associated with organizational change or performance. Rather, those organizations that use contemporary management accounting practices to a greater extent experienced greater change and stronger performance. Practical implications - The findings suggest that contemporary management accounting practices can assist public sector practitioners in improving performance and promoting organizational change. Originality/value - The study provides an empirical insight into the use and effectiveness of management accounting practices in the public sector. The study provides the first empirical analysis of the effect of using a package of management accounting practices in the public sector.