In the second day, we heard from Ulvestad (NSF) about how budgets are planned at the agencies, from the presidential request through to the divisions and then adjusted over time. It was remarkable and scary! Although the granting is all peer-reviewed, there is a huge amount of decision-making within NSF that is certainly not. That said, astronomy does well at NSF in part because it has well-organized, unified community support for certain big projects.
We spent a long time talking about principles for access to shared facilities and federally funded observatories and surveys and other such projects. One principal principle is transparency, which I love. Another is open data. We also spent a lot of time talking about the possible data we would need to understand the causes of (and solutions to) the related problems of low success rates on grant proposals and the large number of proposals submitted per person per year.