The controls will be mandatory by December, when they become the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 200, as required by the Federal Information Security Act (FISMA).
Security controls are the "management, operational, and technical safeguards or countermeasures prescribed for an information system to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the system," according the NIST document.
The controls should be used in conjunction with an infosec program that includes periodic risk assessments, policies and procedures based on risk assessments, and awareness training, according to NIST.
In developing its recommendations, NIST considered sources in the defense, audit, financial, healthcare, and intelligence communities, as well as controls defined by national and international standards organizations.
NIST encourages state and local agencies, along with private companies that make up the critical infrastructure of the U.S., to consider using the guidelines, where appropriate.