The New Year's list saw a knighthood handed to the the permanent secretary of the department for international development, despite concerns over the way the UK spends £12bn of aid money.
Despite criticism over the performance of HM Revenue and Customs this year, six senior tax officials were also recognised, while a former Conservative treasurer who provided rent-free accommodation to Cameron over the summer was also granted an honour.
A Whitehall source told The Times the previous Prime Minister was responsible for some of the nominations, saying: "These things are put together with quite a lot of time to spare"
May will reportedly seek to refocus the honours system on individuals who help boost the economy or social mobility.
Recognition will also go to those who tackle discrimination, provide support to young people and boost local communities.