During the second half of the nineteenth century, five Great Exhibitions took place in Paris. The French state was highly involved in their financing and management which led to the implementation of public finance rules. Because of specific managerial constraints, public accounting systems and practices were adapted to meet project management purposes. This research focuses on the roles that can be fulfilled by this accounting system. For this purpose, the classification system of organizational roles of accounting by Burchell et al. (1980) is used, and the changes in potential roles of accounting over time according to political background and parliamentary control are considered.