Excellent comment from eeke:
My last NIH grant application was criticized for not including a post-doc at 100% effort. I had listed two techs, instead. Are reviewers under pressure to ding PI's for not having post-docs or some sort of trainee? WTF?
I think it is mostly because reviewers think that a postdoc will provide more intellectual horsepower than a tech and especially when you have two techs, you could have one of each.
I fully embrace this bias, I have to admit. I think a one-tech, one-PD full modular R01 is about the standardest of standard lineups. Anchors the team. Best impact for the money and all that.
A divergence from this expectation would require special circumstances to be explained (and of course there are many projects imaginable where two-tech, no-postdoc *would* be best, you just have to explain it)
What do you think, folks? What arrangement of personnel do you expect to see on a grant proposal in your field, for your agencies of closest interest? Are you a blank slate until you see what the applicant has proposed or do you have....expectations?