Workers getting furlough notices

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic has over 2,600 employees at its Charleston Naval Weapons Station offices.

Grace Beahm

Thousands of federal civilian workers in Charleston have been bracing for their official furlough letters for months.

They now are going out for workers on the Department of Defense payroll.

The locally based Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic began notifying its more than 2,600 employees in North Charleston this week about the 11 days they will have to take off without pay, likely starting in July.

Delivery of the “proposal to furlough” letters started Tuesday, SPAWAR spokesman Tommy Groves said Wednesday.

All employees will have received their official notices by this time next week.

The first mandatory day off won’t come before July 8, according to Groves, and likely will be July 12. While most people will take the same furlough day each week, Groves noted that SPAWAR, a Navy command that provides high-tech engineering services to numerous government agencies, has flexibility “based on mission requirements.”

Federal officials initially forecast 22 days of furloughs, but that number has been halved over the course of the spring.

Groves said in an email that the stay-home days could end sooner if the Defense Department can find savings elsewhere.

The furloughs are part of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, which took effect March 1. The military’s portion of the furloughs is expected to save about $2.5 billion.

Including SPAWAR, the Charleston area is home to more than 50 military commands that employ about 5,000 civlians.

The furloughs also will affect other federal agencies in the Lowcountry.

Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.