This document from the Department of Homeland Security and National Visualization and Analytics Center details the mandate for the development of a research and development agenda for the program. From the documents: "Visual analytics is the science of analytical reasoning facilitated by interactive visual interfaces. People use visual analytics tools and techniques to synthesize information and derive insight from massive, dynamic, ambiguous, and often conflicting data; detect the expected and discover the unexpected; provide timely, defensible, and understandable assessments; and communicate assessment effectively for action. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chartered the National Visualization and Analytics Center™ (NVAC™) in 2004 with the goal of helping to counter future terrorist attacks in the United States and around the globe. A major objective for NVAC is to define a long-term research and development (R&D) agenda for visual analytics to address the most pressing needs in R&D to facilitate advanced analytical insight. Under the leadership of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the R&D agenda for visual analytics was developed to define the directions and priorities for future R&D programs focused on visual analytics tools. This agenda, Illuminating the Path, provides a coordinated technical vision for government and industrial investments and helps ensure that a continual stream of technology and tools enter the hands of analysts and emergency responders."
National Visualization and Analytics Center: http://nvac.pnl.gov