News Article | December 16, 2016
H.R. 34 containing provisions that establish Small Business HRAs (SBHRA) was signed into law by President Obama on December 13, 2016. Beginning January 1, 2017, qualified businesses that establish SBHRAs will be able to use tax-advantaged funds to reimburse employees for individual health insurance premiums and family out-of-pocket medical expenses. (Note: This change does not affect one-employee, integrated, or Limited Purpose HRA Plans that are already compliant with federal law.) According to Jason Westphal, Legislative Analyst for Total Administrative Services Corporation (TASC), “SBHRAs provide a tremendous opportunity to those small employers (more than one but fewer than 50 eligible employee) who do not offer Group health but want to assist their employees with ever rising healthcare costs.” Highlights of the Cures Act legislation and a SBHRA include: “IRS Notice 2013-54 issued in September 2013 limited the ability of small business owners to utilize stand-alone HRAs. Prior to this guidance, many had used HRAs to reimburse their employees for certain medical expenses using pre-tax dollars. As a result of IRS Notice 2013-14, a company with more than one eligible employee could no longer receive a tax advantage through an HRA unless it sponsored Group insurance (an expense that’s beyond many small companies’ reach) —or offered a Limited Purpose HRA (which can only provide coverage for dental, orthodontia, vision and long-term care). This new legislation overturns guidance issued in IRS Notice 2013-54 and once again allows employers with fewer than 50 employees (companies not subject to the ACA’s Employer Mandate) to utilize HRAs as a pre-tax health & welfare benefit.” The Small Business Healthcare Relief Act was first introduced to congress in June 2015 (H.R. 2911 and S. 1698). In June 2016, the House and Senate re-introduced amended bills (H.R. 5447 and S. 3060 respectively). H.R. 5447 was ultimately incorporated into the Cures Act which was passed by the House and Senate as part of the 2016 year-end health package containing mental health initiatives, Medicare provisions, and medical research funding. # # # About TASC: TASC is an award-winning national third-party benefits administrator of tax-advantaged health benefits plans offering comprehensive services for Clients, Participants, and Providers and serving companies ranging in size from one employee to thousands. New product development, innovative tools, and outstanding transparent service keep TASC’s products and services at the forefront of third-party benefits administration. AgriPlan and BizPlan (Section 105 HRAs) are products that fall under TASC’s Microbusiness umbrella. AgriPlan and BizPlan save small business owners an average of more than $5,000 a year on their insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Beier H.T.,U.S. Air force |
Noojin G.D.,TASC Inc |
Rockwell B.A.,U.S. Air force
Optics Express | Year: 2011
Stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) is a powerful tool for obtaining background-free chemical information about a material without extrinsic labeling. Background-free spectra are particularly important in the fingerprint region (∼800 and 1800 cm-1) where peaks are narrow, closely-spaced, and may be in abundance for a particular chemical. We demonstrate a method for obtaining SRS spectra using a single femtosecond laser oscillator. A photonic crystal fiber is used to create a supercontinuum to provide a range of Stokes shifts from ∼300 to 3400 cm-1. This SRS approach provides for collection capabilities that are easily modified between obtaining broadband spectra and single-frequency images. © 2011 Optical Society of America.
Hendow S.T.,Multiwave Photonics |
Romero R.,Multiwave Photonics |
Shakir S.A.,TASC Inc |
Guerreiro P.T.,Multiwave Photonics
Optics Express | Year: 2011
The effect of ns bursting on percussion drilling of metal is investigated experimentally and analytically, and compared with the efficiency and quality of drilling using single ns pulses. Key advantages are demonstrated, correlating well with the results from a thermal theoretical model. The 1064 nm bursts contain up to 14 pulses of various pulse widths and spacing, and at frequencies of tens of MHz within the burst. The individual pulses have pulse widths of 10 to 200 ns, and up to 12 kW peak power. Burst repetition frequency is single shot to 500 kHz. © 2011 Optical Society of America.
News Article | October 5, 2015
In a move that signifies its status as a leading specialist in refrigeration related ammonia hazard assessments in the UK, Star Technical Solutions has been invited to present at the upcoming Food Storage and Distribution Federation’s Ammonia Summit. The Refrigeration Consultancy helps businesses ensure compliance with legislation and good practice guidance. During the Ammonia Summit, the Star presentation will focus primarily on Ammonia Hazard Assessments and why ammonia legislation compliance is now more important than ever. Senior Consultant of Star Technical Solutions, Dr Dermot Cotter, will be on hand to discuss “The Key Issues Identified in Ammonia Hazard Assessments”, covering the following topics: The Chairman of the Institute of Refrigeration Technical Committee and Star’s Group Engineering Director Dr Andy Pearson will also argue ammonia’s case in a presentation titled “Why is ammonia such a good refrigerant?” Dr Cotter explains, “Under the legislation it is necessary to prepare specific risk assessments for all plants using ammonia refrigeration systems due to its potential flammability and toxicity – both requiring close assessment and management.” Dr Cotter continues, “With responsibilities to ensure that the requirements of legislation is implemented properly falling directly to the employer, the end-user and the owner of the facility, the new PM81 and DSEAR guidance documents are expected to set stringent guidelines for compliance with European standards and directives, and UK legislation regarding toxicity and flammability of ammonia refrigeration systems. They are also expected to outline key responsibilities placed on employers, end users and facility owners.” For the past three years, the Technical and Safety Committee (TASC) of the Food Storage and Distribution Federation, the HSE and the HSL, have been developing the new guidance for the safe management of ammonia refrigeration systems. This means big changes for businesses incorporating temperature-controlled cooling, as well as the insurance companies that cover their operations. The new to be released PM81 guide will replace the earlier version, which was published in 1995 and withdrawn from use in 2005. The new to be released DSEAR guideline document is set to highlight the latest best practice in regard to the flammability of refrigeration systems using ammonia. The Star Technical Solutions team will be joined by other leading technical experts, including Dr Robert Lamb of Star Refrigeration who will take to the stage to present “Ammonia Chillers and Low Charge Refrigeration Systems,” and Niels P Vestergaard of Danfoss A/S who will examine the “Trend in technologies supporting safe and successful use of ammonia systems in industrial applications.” This makes the summit a must attend event for any temperature controlled food chain business that supplies, utilises or maintains ammonia equipment. The STS presentations have been developed to show where common non compliances to legislation has been identified and with the new to be released PM81 and DSEAR guidelines will help businesses to comply with current legislation. David Blackhurst, Director of Star Technical Solutions, says, “Ammonia is a highly efficient, zero carbon natural refrigerant that has been used in a variety of applications for over 150 years. The new HSE guidelines will be a fantastic step forward for the ammonia cause, and we’re certain that our input will help FDSF Ammonia Summit attendees gain a thorough understanding of how to comply with current legislation.” For registration to attend the summit, visit: http://www.fsdf.org.uk/event/fsdf-ammonia-summit.
News Article | April 22, 2015
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Global education leader Kaplan and the adult education software experts at Aztec Software have joined forces to offer students getting ready for a High School Equivalency Diploma the most comprehensive preparation experience available. The partnership integrates Kaplan’s highly effective content into Aztec Software’s proven computer and mobile-based program. This pairing comes at a critical time for adult learners, as recent figures show a sharp drop off in the number of people who completed a High School Equivalency. GED Testing Service® , which writes the GED® , reports successful tests fell from 540,000 in 2013 to 90,000 in 2014, and both the HiSET, Educational Testing Service’s test offering, and TASC from McGraw Hill, are too new to offer much insight. This drastic decline has been attributed by many adult education experts to the increased difficulty of the tests relative to previous versions of the GED and the change in test-taking mode, from paper and pencil to computer-based. The combined course, called Kaplan Learning System powered by Aztec Software, is a tutorial program that not only gauges a student’s readiness with complete assessments, but creates individualized learning plans and the corresponding academic content that each learner needs to ensure success on high school equivalency exams like the GED, TASC, and HiSET. Available online, offline, and on every major mobile platform, the course allows students to prepare virtually anytime, anywhere. “Aztec Software’s powerful approach to learning, combined with its ability to bolster adult educational development and achievement, aligns well with Kaplan’s mission of helping individuals succeed in reaching their educational and career goals ,” said Lee Weiss, head of New Product Ventures, Kaplan Test Prep. “This partnership reinforces Kaplan’s commitment to adult learners who are already in the workforce. We know that when they succeed the American economy can succeed too.” “This partnership is a game changer in an adult education landscape that is constantly in flux,” said Jonathan Blitt, CEO of Aztec Software. “With a combined 100-plus years of experience of preparing students to successfully complete the increasingly rigorous battery of high-stakes exams, the combination of Kaplan’s deep understanding of test-taking strategies and Aztec Software’s interactive software will create the most student-centric learning experience ever offered to adults. Most importantly, adult learners, unlike their K-12 counterparts, are our current workforce. Their need is immediate, and the economic impact of more educated workers can be felt in real-time in every community in every state in the country.” For more information, please contact Russell Schaffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.453.7538. GED is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product. Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services. Additionally, Kaplan operates new economy skills training (NEST) bootcamps designed to provide immersive training in skills that are in high demand in today’s job market and prepare participants for hire. Founded in 1980 by educators, not technologists, Aztec Software has been in the business of improving adult and young adult lives through computerized skills remediation from its inception. Used throughout the country in community colleges, correctional facilities, one-stop centers, job corps centers, middle schools, and high schools, Aztec has become an integral part of today’s complete educational curriculum. Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Graham Holdings Company (NYSE:GHC)
News Article | October 10, 2013
The decades-long hegemony of the General Education Development test over American dropouts hoping for a high school equivalency degree is coming to an end next year—and just as the GED becomes more difficult, more expensive, and available only on computer. Two alternative tests are set to enter the market from different providers, and states such as New York are abandoning the GED entirely. The GED was introduced in 1942 to help returning World War II veterans without high school diplomas get back on track and take advantage of the G.I. Bill, and the exam became available to civilians in the late 1940s. By 2008, GEDs accounted for 12 percent of high school credentials issued. The value of getting a GED, sometimes derided as the “Good Enough Diploma,” has long been up for debate. The test has undoubtedly opened doors for many Americans, putting some on the path to college and better job prospects. But research by the Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman also shows that GED recipients generally perform no better economically than high school dropouts. One can only hope that some competition and tougher tests will win equivalency-diploma recipients more credibility and provide a boost to America’s underperforming labor market. Until recently, the test was run by the nonprofit American Council on Education. In 2011, the group joined with the for-profit Pearson (PSO) to take the test private, and the base cost for taking the GED spiked from about $50 to $120—a serious blow to the wallets of GED takers, many of whom are underemployed or eking out a minimum-wage living. Once the GED shed its nonprofit status, two new players got into the game: the for-profit CTB/McGraw-Hill and the nonprofit ETS. Both will start offering their tests—the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) and the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)—in January 2014. The flat fees will be $52 and $50, respectively, although costs vary from state to state and may not cover additional services such as those included in the GED fee. “When the GED was purchased by Pearson and became a for-profit organization, states were really concerned about changes being implemented,” says Amy Riker, national director of the HiSET program. “They wanted to make sure there was paper and computer access and that the cost was kept relatively low.” CTB/McGraw-Hill also says it was approached by government officials worried about a Pearson-led GED monopoly. Next year, several states will ditch the GED entirely. Maine, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Louisiana will offer only the HiSET, while New York and Indiana will offer only the TASC. Some states will let test takers and test centers choose between the high school equivalency options. Meanwhile, GED Testing Service defends its price hike and the forthcoming changes to the GED. “The status quo was just not working,” says Nicole Chestang, executive vice president. The new GED, she says, will incorporate a more comprehensive test prep and college readiness program as well as more rigorous standards than the competition. The GED’s competitors say their tests will also meet high standards. While the HiSET and TASC will offer a pencil-and-paper option, the GED will be available only on computer—another source of potential concern. “Contrary to popular opinion, not every person has a computer or iPad at home,” one Florida teacher told the Atlantic. Educators also complain that they do not know what to expect from the new tests or how to prepare students. Americans have never had an easy time passing the GED, even when the only test in town was less challenging. Preparation will be key. “We have a national crisis on our hands,” says Chestang. “Millions of adults without high school diplomas aren’t prepared for college or for the careers of the future.”
News Article | April 21, 2015
ENSCO, Inc., is pleased to announce the appointment of Karl E. Nell as Vice President of the National Security Solutions (NSS) Division. Mr. Nell will lead the division in offering a multi-disciplinary approach to solving technical challenges in sensor development and integration; chemical, biological and geophysical phenomenology; software applications and modeling; and operational applications of technology including systems engineering, systems development and fielding of turnkey operationally deployed systems. “Karl Nell brings to ENSCO a unique blend of technology leadership, executive management, business acumen, and program execution coupled with diverse experience across the national security field,” stated Boris Nejikovsky, President of ENSCO. “We look forward to working with him as he charts a course to move the division forward, providing new exciting opportunities for the company.” Mr. Nell has 25 years of progressive technology and organizational leadership in top tier firms, such as Bell Telephone Laboratories, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, TASC and CACI. His wide-ranging experience and knowledge in the intelligence community and in mission-critical applications includes significant work with DIA, NRO, DTRA, DARPA, NGA and NGIC, including MASINT work for the CIA. He also has experience developing commercial business adjacencies with startups, such as the former TerreStar Networks Inc. Mr. Nell has an ongoing career in the U.S. Army, first as an active duty officer and later in the U.S. Army Reserve. Most recently, as Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Planning, he advised the executive steering committee of the U.S. Army Reserve in the largest re-structuring since 9/11 and inauguration of the "gold standard" for multi-echelon, multi-functional combat support training within the U.S. Army. Mr. Nell holds several degrees: a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Boston University, a master certificate in computer science engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is PMP certified and a published author.
News Article | December 28, 2012
Top-secret janitor. Pollster to the spies. Classified comic book artist. Any organization sufficiently large is bound to have the odd job opening within it. But few organizations are as freakin' colossal as the U.S. military intelligence industrial complex, with an estimated 4.9 million Americans holding security clearances today. Which means there are thousands of unconventional positions to fill at any given moment. Here are some of the wilder military and intelligence "help wanted" ads we found online. Some classifieds are for truly wacky jobs. Others are for slightly more standard positions -- but presented in an odd way. If you find more, let us know in the comments, on Twitter or on Facebook. We'll post some of the best suggestions. Let's face it, your artistic talent is going to waste working for minimum wage at that coffee bar. And you're not exactly using your top-secret security clearance either, brewing up mochaccinos. Luckily, there's a job that combines your comic book skills with your remarkable ability to make it through art school while only barely hitting the bong. Virginia-based Pentagon contractor TASC is looking for a graphic artist to join their "Global Systems Business Unit." There you'll design "creative artwork" that can "communicate mood, emphasis, insight, viewpoint, and similar visual impressions" through brochures, emblems, and posters. That's like band and gig posters, right? Sure, if you think of "gig" in terms of engineering support for the Pentagon's fleet of spy satellites. (You'll also have to clear a polygraph test.) And not to worry. While the corporate culture of the military-defense industry can be a little square, TASC wants to use satellite data to "move from reporting historical location information to predicting events," company vice president Robert Horback told Geospatial Intelligence Forum. Hipster credibility is based on knowing what's cool in advance of everyone else, so it's a perfect job, really.
News Article | June 4, 2013
WASHINGTON–The topic of critical infrastructure security may be the prettiest girl at the dance right now for both politicians and technology companies, but the problem of attackers going after these targets is one that security people have been dealing with for some time. But that doesn’t mean they have a good handle on it or clear solution for the problem. In fact, there are still a number of old obstacles standing in the way of addressing the issue. There is no shortage of news about attacks on critical infrastructure systems, be they water facilities, financial systems or electrical grids, and those operations have been going on for years now. But in the last couple of years there has been a change in both the sophistication of those operations and the nature of the attacks. While some attackers in the past may have been interested in stealing some data, now there are groups looking to cause service interruptions or complete shutdowns of key services. For the teams dedicated to protecting the networks that run critical infrastructure components, the difficulty of responding to these attacks is being compounded by the nature of the threats and the barriers to gathering and sharing key information on emerging threats. An attacker interested in taking down a utility doesn’t need to be a state-sponsored professional or a government agent. He could be anyone from anywhere “I think our real concern is the third tier, the disassociated hacktivists and terrorists. There’s probably very little reason for a nation state to carry out those attacks unless they’re willing to risk war, because that’s what it would come down to,” said Jim Jaeger, vice president of cybersecurity services at General Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions, speaking on a panel at the Kaspersky Lab Cybersecurity Forum here. “Criminals aren’t going to carry out infrastructure attacks because they risk the attention of law enforcement. Hacktivists have very little holding them back and a lot to gain. It’s that amorphous third group that as a national security group we have difficulty focusing on. It’s an arena that’s not targetable in our traditional approach.” While destructive or disruptive attacks on these networks may get all the headlines, cyberespionage attacks have become a major problem, as well, and could turn into a different issue altogether if things change in the political arena. “I look at the volume of penetrations the Chinese have in our networks and if the geopolitics change and we end up in a conflict with the Chinese it would be seamless for them to use those penetrations to get into databases and control systems that would be horrific in war time,” said Tom Corcoran, senior policy adviser for the House Intelligence Committee, who also participated in the panel discussion. “It’s not hard for me to imagine how this debate would change overnight if something like that happened in our country.” One of the challenges to improving the security of these critical networks, the panelists said, is the sharing of attack and threat data. Informal and formal information sharing programs have been running for years in th industry, but the nature of the data that companies share is dictated by a number of factors, not the least of which is potential exposure to legal problems of public shaming. That climate needs to change if there is to be truly valuable threat intelligence sharing among critical infrastructure organizations, the panelists said. “Information sharing is absolutely critical so that the way they broke into one house, they don’t get use that technique again,” said Steve Winterfeld, cyber tech director at TASC. “And today there is no national standard for the things we’re talking about. I believe collaborative standards will come first.” Asked about the possibility of protecting the systems running utilities and other critical infrastructure components, Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, said in a later discussion that it can happen, but not easily. “Unfortunately, we can’t protect critical infrastructure today, and not tomorrow and not next week,” he said. “But can move in that direction. It needs technology, regulation and international cooperation.”