Culture Secretary Maria Miller has reminded the BBC Trust of its duty "to ensure value for money", remarking that outgoing director general George Entwistle's £450,000 pay-off was "hard to justify".
"Ultimately, the only organisation that can restore the public's trust in the BBC is the BBC itself," she told MPs, having been summoned to the despatch box to answer an urgent question on the BBC from shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman on 12 November 2012.
She called on the BBC to respond "decisively and quickly" to its investigation into Newsnight's decision to shelve a report on allegations that Jimmy Savile was guilty of sexual crimes.
On Mr Entwistle's severance package, which was equivalent to one year's salary, she said: "The National Audit Office is empowered to conduct a value for money review of any issue.
"If they decide to review this decision, I expect that the BBC would co-operate fully."
But she noted: "Contractual arrangements are a matter for the BBC Trust."
Under the terms of his contract, Mr Entwistle had been entitled to six months' pay on quitting.
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has said Mr Entwistle would have been entitled to a year's pay if he had been sacked, adding that a "consensual resignation on these terms was clearly the better route".
But Ms Harman called on Mr Entwistle to return half of his severance payment.
"George Entwistle should reflect on this and only take that to which he is entitled," she said.
Mr Entwistle resigned on 10 November in the wake of a Newsnight report which led to a former Conservative treasurer being wrongly accused of child abuse.
He said that as the editor-in-chief he was "ultimately responsible for all content" and "decided that the honourable thing to do [was] to step down from the post of director general".