But if you write an amazingly great grant, then its a crap shoot. I recently had two great proposals get triaged. Triaging is a way an NIH study section can handle the workload, currently (if my sources are correct) ~2/3 to 3/4 of all proposals in my study sections are triaged. This could mean your proposal sucks or that it was awesome, but so were a bunch of other proposals. This is why its a crap shoot. If most proposals submitted are good, and you're a fool to think they aren't, then many good proposals will be triaged and of those not triaged, most still won't be funded.
Your proposal is critically reviewed by 2-3 individuals and if 1 is not orgasmic in his/her enthusiasm you're fucked. So, I submitted 2 outstanding proposals. The first was an exploration in virtually unlimited awesomeness. It was a new approach to an important problem that was guaranteed to yield important information. I knew this proposal was going somewhere. The second, was a study in some totes awesomeness of biology. Easy to do and complete, no worries, but I was less impressed with it personally. See, I submitted this second proposal in a different form previously which focused on a gene family. The reviewers of that unfunded proposal wanted me to focus on one or two genes in the family. This was boneheaded, but I decided to try what they asked. I wrote this new proposal one one or two genes and submitted it, even though I knew my previous approach was correct.
Well, I get my scores back. Awesome Proposal #1 crappy pathetic scores. Less Awesome Proposal #2 really good scores (not good enough to pass the triage line but pretty fucking close). WTF!!11!
Of course I read the critiques the reviewers wrote for both proposals, but the important thing is the review for proposal #2. Guess what, they thought it was boneheaded to focus one or two genes and not the family. God, Im an idiot sometimes. If you know you're right and you are, stick to your guns.