© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Much of the cancer burden in the USA is preventable, through application of existing knowledge. State-level funders and public health practitioners are in ideal positions to affect programs and policies related to cancer control. Mis-implementation refers to ending effective programs and policies prematurely or continuing ineffective ones. Greater attention to mis-implementation should lead to use of effective interventions and more efficient expenditure of resources, which in the long term, will lead to more positive cancer outcomes. Methods: This is a three-phase study that takes a comprehensive approach, leading to the elucidation of tactics for addressing mis-implementation. Phase 1: We assess the extent to which mis-implementation is occurring among state cancer control programs in public health. This initial phase will involve a survey of 800 practitioners representing all states. The programs represented will span the full continuum of cancer control, from primary prevention to survivorship. Phase 2: Using data from phase 1 to identify organizations in which mis-implementation is particularly high or low, the team will conduct eight comparative case studies to get a richer understanding of mis-implementation and to understand contextual differences. These case studies will highlight lessons learned about mis-implementation and identify hypothesized drivers. Phase 3: Agent-based modeling will be used to identify dynamic interactions between individual capacity, organizational capacity, use of evidence, funding, and external factors driving mis-implementation. The team will then translate and disseminate findings from phases 1 to 3 to practitioners and practice-related stakeholders to support the reduction of mis-implementation. Discussion: This study is innovative and significant because it will (1) be the first to refine and further develop reliable and valid measures of mis-implementation of public health programs; (2) bring together a strong, transdisciplinary team with significant expertise in practice-based research; (3) use agent-based modeling to address cancer control implementation; and (4) use a participatory, evidence-based, stakeholder-driven approach that will identify key leverage points for addressing mis-implementation among state public health programs. This research is expected to provide replicable computational simulation models that can identify leverage points and public health system dynamics to reduce mis-implementation in cancer control and may be of interest to other health areas.