I am a project manager at my company. I usually work on projects where the customers are government offices, public administrations and company related to them. In September we will begin a project for a company whose board of directors is appointed to reflect the state of the public administration to which it refers: the party winning the elections appoints 70% of the directors. The term in office of the board of directors is fixed, so there are cases in which public administration is in the hands of party A and (for a period) directors are mainly connected to party B.
Now we are exactly in the last situation: party B won the recent elections, but the board of directors appointed by party A will hold office for a further six months. The project I will manage should last 18 months. We already know that when the new board will come to power, they will cancel the project.
This is not a possibility; it is a certainty: we already spoke with the soon-to-be new CEO and he confirmed it. For me this is not a problem at all (neither the first time nor the last) and for my company it is a win situation: we will be paid for the entire project even if it will not be completed, there will be no pressure to complete it, no timeline to respect, etc. Public funds waste is neither my problem nor my company one.
The only thing we are forced to do is to be able to demonstrate that we are working on it (so a team must work on the project and a codebase must exist) and a working demo must be produced at the end of the six months. So the strategy of getting the money and do nothing is not feasible (unfortunately).
My company does not want to hide the situation to the team (and I 100% agree), but telling someone “your six months work will be a total waste” is not easy. And I have nothing positive to say: the technology stack is well known to the team (so no new knowledge can be gained), and the project is extremely focused on a particular need (so there isn't any way to sell to other customers).
So, how do I tell the team that they will work for six months on a project that we already know will fail?