Far from being a model of public procurement excellence, the Wright brothers’ contract contains a familiar range of problems that plague modern contracting offi cials. In addition to the unusual process that led to its award, the contract features diffi cult wording, lack of funding availability, rigid inspection, restrictive clauses, delayed performance, and other complications. Borrowing from Howe’s (1985) technique, this chapter identifi es the Wright brothers’ government contract as an object lesson in ambiguity and bureaucracy, as well as a harbinger of tensions to come in public procurement.