I was interested to learn that several researchers from down the river at QUT recently got a letter published in Nature, Funding: Australia's grant system wastes time. They focussed on the National Health and Medical Research Council claiming:
Australian scientists spent around 550 years' worth of research time writing applications for project grants in 2012, many of which were more than 100 pages long.
Yet 400 years' worth of that valuable research time was wasted because only around 20 per cent of applications were successful.
Applicants spent an average of 34 days writing preparing their proposals, at a combined estimated salary cost of $66 million.
Unfortunately, I doubt this is that different from most countries. I review applications from overseas which look just as bulky, full of frivolous information, and with comparable low success rates.