DOE nuclear weapons announces possible employee furloughs

Employees and contractors from the branch of the U.S. Department of Energy that manages the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile were recently informed that they could be furloughed because of the automatic sequestration cuts.

The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration said that the furloughs could potentially affect thousands of the agency's employees, most of whom are contractors, according to the Hill.

"While we are doing everything we can to protect our workforce and our critical mission, there remains the possibility that furloughs of both federal and contractor personnel may be required as a result of factors beyond our control," NNSA Acting Administrator Neile Miller said, the Hill reports.

NNSA said that it currently does not have a solid estimate of the number of furloughs required but added that it would depend to a large extent on the decisions of contractor companies. Those furloughed would be given a 30-day notice, which gives Congress some leeway in negotiating a possible end to the automatic budget cuts.

The agency is responsible for protecting and maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal and assists in stopping the spread of nuclear material and technology to outside groups. NNSA accounts for the largest portion of DOE's annual spending, according to the Hill.