From "Does the Golden Fleece Award Serve a Useful Purpose?" by Sen. William Proxmire:
Yes, indeed, the Golden Fleece has raised hackles on a lot of persons I have criticized. It has particularly provoked resentment from some in the scientific research community, although I have rarely awarded the Golden Fleece for scientific research.
Still, some charge that I have ridiculed and demeaned sincere research, that I have demagogically exploited situations where tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on what superficially seemed to be ridiculous inquiries-- such as how long it takes to cook breakfast . . . .
I have found that when someone says the word "research" in the U.S. Senate many members virtually stand up and salute. We pour more money into research in this country than all the other nations in the world combined. Much of that funding has borne rich dividends. But some of it has been wasted.
Who should challenge and root out that waste? We in Congress should-- that's our job. We have the responsibility of appropriating taxpayers' money. . . .
The most common question of the Golden Fleece Award has been: "What good does it do? Don't you just criticize the spending after the fact, after the money has already been spent, after it's too late?"
My answer to those critics is this: we have carefully studied the results of these fleeces and found that in two- thirds of the cases in which we award the Fleece, the programs we cite are either completely discontinued or sharply cut back. So, yes, the Golden Fleece awards do get results.