Information Resources and Technology Management


You are invited to read the definitions of terms used in this data standard.

Political Boundary Data (DLG)
The data consists of digital maps created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that depict political boundaries such as park, towns, counties or states. Although these data now exist in Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS), as well as Digital Line Graph (DLG) format, they are still called DLG data. The data are available on the Internet, free-of-charge, or on inexpensive CD's. The CD's contain 1:100,000- and 1:2,000,000-scale data in DLG format, available nationally. The 1:24,000-scale data on the Internet  is available only in SDTS format. While it is not yet completed nationally, work is in progress.
USGS EROS Data Center is the source for 1:100,000-scale data in DLG format.
SDTS information for USGS data available in SDTS format. 
Historical Data For information on past versions of this standard, contact the Chief Data Officer

Part 270, FW 6, Data Management and Standards, has been superceded by Part 274, FW 2, Establishing Service Data Standards.

USGS DLG Data - product description, prices, sample data, search and order DLG data. 

DLG Standards - this site includes links to DLG documentation, selectable by scale at the site; very large documents.

The SDTS Information Site - includes documentation, FAQ's, and data pointers.

Use Instructions
The USGS Political Boundary data layer in DLG format should be used wherever it is available in an appropriate scale and with current information. Other supplementary data may be needed if the USGS data is old or not in the large scale format. In some parts of the country, TIGER data may be a good alternative.

Service personnel can use the tools referenced below to convert the data to other formats and relate the associated tabular data. Political boundaries data is usually used as a reference GIS layer, but may be used in analysis as well, particularly with tabular data and report creation.

Limitations: Data should always be used at the scale appropriate to the application. The USGS makes every effort to achieve a high level of accuracy in all of its published products. An important aim of its accuracy control program is to meet the U.S. National Map Accuracy Standards. These standards vary with scale; for example, 1:24,000-scale data will be much more spatially accurate than data at the 1:100,000-scale. If the degree of precision is very important to the application, check the above reference to make sure the data being used are appropriate.


The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Codes - This file lists all counties and equivalent areas in the United States defined as of January 1, 1990, alphabetically by State with related codes. There are four codes shown: the first code is the FIPS MSA/CMSA/NECMA code, the second code is the FIPS PMSA code, the third code is a combination of the FIPS State and county codes, and the fourth code is the geographic summary level.

Visit the Public Domain Software for Use with USGS Geographic Data page for notes on all DLG data.

Approval Date
January 14, 1999
Validation Date
January 28, 2011
Data Steward
Chief Data Officer


Last updated: May 9, 2019