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Strategic Planning & Budgeting: Abhi Nemani’s full circle journey with local government budgets

Professional headshot of Abhi Nemani in a suit and tie.

Nemani, Senior VP of Product Strategy
Abhi is a government technology entrepreneur, scholar and public servant with over 15 years of experience building and leading public and private sector organizations driving innovation. Currently, Abhi Nemani is the Senior Vice President of product strategy at Euna Solutions, a leading provider of purpose-built, cloud-based solutions for the public sector.


Nearly two decades ago, in a cluttered college research center, in walked a beaming, booming professor with a devilish smile: he unloaded a handful of 300-page documents on the conference table and pronounced, “Dig in.” Devilish indeed — but an insight I carry to this day. “Here’s the key to unlocking a city’s soul,” he declared.  “If you want to understand what drives a city, its priorities, and strategies, you’ll find no better guide than the budget.”

Little did I know, this was not just an academic exercise; it was the beginning of a journey that would land me here, at Euna, where I choose to analyze thousands of city budgets for that very reason —connecting the dots between strategy and local action.

(And I think this might count as one of the few proper uses of the term, “irony”.)

Inside a Budget Office: from the lens of Abhi Nemani

This initial foray into the world of municipal budgets ignited a curiosity that would grow into a full-blown passion. As I pored over those pages, I began to see beyond the dry numbers and complex tables. Each line item, each allocation, whispered stories of community needs, political ambitions, and strategic decisions made behind closed council doors.

Fast forward from those days in the research center to my role as Los Angeles’ Chief Data Officer, where the challenge of translating data into actionable insights for one of America’s largest cities lay before me. Here, amid the vast digital landscape of urban management, those early lessons in budget analysis proved invaluable. The irony wasn’t lost on me: I had moved from dissecting a few budget books by necessity to navigating hundreds by choice, seeking to uncover the strategic heart of the city through its fiscal plans.

Indeed, the budget priorities became the cornerstone of the Mayoral Dashboard — which then Mayor Eric Garcetti used regularly. Previous generic dashboards never stuck, but a dashboard organized around his budgetary priorities was a constant resource. (Which, considering the budget is the key strategy document for Mayors, is probably where I should have started.)

The challenge continues: Connecting the dots from budget books to strategic plans

The challenge of connecting the dots, even in the digital age, remains. The transition from the tangible pages of budget books to the digital dashboards of today’s budgeting software marked the beginning of the evolution of budgeting — where budget books weren’t just stacked on a shelf but in the mayor’s, council’s and every other stakeholder’s hands with interactive visualizations.

Yet, the essence of the task remained the same: to understand a city’s strategy, to see the narrative woven through the numbers. And for now, there remains a gap between a city’s multi-year strategic plan and its annual budget, a gap that likely leaves current undergrads pouring through budget books somewhere.

Abhi’s full circle to strategic planning and budgeting

Reflecting on this journey, from that initial, impactful moment in the research center to my current endeavors at Euna Solutions, the path has been marked by an ironic twist. What began as a professor’s challenge to uncover the stories hidden within a few budget books has expanded into a professional commitment to bringing clarity and insight to municipal budgeting on a grand scale. The budgets, whether bound and printed or displayed on a screen, continue to be my map to navigating the complexities of city strategies, proving that some keys to understanding remain timeless, even as the locks they open evolve.

The final breadcrumb I’ll leave here is that this reflection is not in vain. I’m proud to say that our team at Euna Solutions has, in fact, determined how to digitally connect the dots from budget books to strategic plans in a compliant and transparent way. But that’s for another blog post…

In the meantime, learn more about how you can integrate strategic planning and budgeting in your agency with this on-demand webinar, “Rethinking Budgeting: Aligning Budget and Strategy”.


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Learn how to find the right solutions partner to enhance your ERP, save time and resources, and ultimately deliver a greater impact on the communities you serve.

Download eBook