The Public Accounts Committee has criticised the department for spending £2m on consultants to assess emergency funding bids by charities.
A report published on Wednesday (June 9) says the DCMS "failed to provide a clear rationale" for the contract with PwC given it already had the experience and processes in place to do it.
The committee said it was "not convinced that the department's decisions about how to allocate funds were sufficiently transparent", questioning why special advisors met with officials after bids for funding had already been assessed.
"The level of influence exerted by special advisers and their involvement at the point of decision making appears to go beyond what we have previously seen as members of this committee."
Similar scrutiny will likely come to bear on distribution of the Culture Recovery Fund, which the PAC is also investigating.
Its report notes: "The department is unable to clearly explain why the Culture Recovery Fund, a support package for cultural organisations unable to operate during the pandemic, received nearly three times more funding than was allocated to organisations supporting vulnerable individuals and providing frontline services, who were dealing with large increases in demand."