The whole department has been very quiet during the last few weeks, not because nobody is there but because everybody is in grant-writing-mode. People work crazy hours trying to find the best words and the best flow which will intrigue the reviewers and the panel. A lot of the applications will be sole author ones by nature and even from the others I don't expect too many in-house collaborations. For some reason people around here are too busy to collaborate with the guy next door - or they are too cautious. It's always a bit difficult to figure out who is currently working on which topic and who owns which equipment not to speak of where it is hidden.
During the last few years our department hasn't been overly successful with grant applications and so we of course want to improve our statistics. But how? By writing more grants? Not a good choice, everybody is stressed out with the writing amount they already have. So it must be writing-better-grants, be more convincing, more intriguing. To achieve that it seems useful if other people read your stuff and critique it before it's sent to the reviewers - esp. if these peoples names are not on the grant application but they have a certain clue about your field. We already have a faculty wide internal panel who comments on grant proposal and additionally to that we now have a department wide internal panel as well. The panel consists of a bunch of people who are not too caught up in the writing process and who together cover the research subjects of our department. Sounds like a great idea but in reality it didn't work out at all. Nobody of the whole department sent in their drafts for internal review, not on the deadline and not even thereafter. If this is because people just take the final submission deadline seriously and just don't have a draft yet or if they don't want to disclose their projects to somebody internal? Maybe this concept will need a few years to get established - I hope it will, because it can be a great source of feedback and maybe it even establishes something like "internal collaborations" - sounds freaky, but it might work!