In more recent times the term “Boondoggle” has come to refer to a
government or corporate project involving large numbers of people and
usually, heavy expenditure, where at some point the key operators have
realized that the project is never going to work, but are reluctant to
bring this to the attention of their superiors. Generally there is an
aspect of “going through the motions”, (for example, continuing
research and development), for as long as funds are available to keep
paying the researchers’ and executives’ salaries and so on. The
situation can be allowed to continue for what seem like unreasonably
long periods, as senior management are often reluctant to admit that
they allowed a failed project to go on for so long. In many cases, the
actual device itself may eventually work, but not well enough to ever
recoup its development costs.
An important aspect of the Boondoggle, as opposed to a project that
simply fails, is the eventual realization by its operators that it is
never going to work, long before it is finally shut down. This is not
the same thing as simply fraud, where the proponents know in advance
that their idea has no merit.
A fiasco means multifaceted, extravagant and sad failures in pursuit
of an end that at least some had previously regarded as a chimera.
In ordinary American usage, a “fiasco” is some effort that went wrong.
In hindsight, it would appear to have been foolishly undertaken or