During the Obama administration, at least four federal agencies, including the Justice Department, asked the Census Bureau to add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the American Community Survey, NPR has learned.
Besides the Justice Department, those agencies include the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Still, in March, the bureau concluded there was "no federal data need" to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity on the largest survey in the U.S., which is conducted with about 3.5 million households each year and is used to help distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds.
Many LGBT rights groups say accurate national data about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are critical in making sure their needs are met.
The Justice Department laid out the "legal authority supporting the necessity" for collecting that information in a spreadsheet of statutes attached to its letter to the Census Bureau dated Nov. 4, 2016.